By Gretchen Campbell, M.D. –
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a head injury resulting in symptoms such as confusion, headaches, dizziness, memory loss, and fatigue. Later, the person may experience additional symptoms including imbalance, personality changes and difficulty sleeping. Sometimes there is loss of consciousness immediately after the trauma, or consciousness may be maintained.
Why types of injuries can cause a concussion?
Concussions can occur with any trauma that affects the head and/or upper body such as car accidents, falls, sports injuries, occupational accidents, assaults, etc. Typically one thinks of direct trauma to the head as the only cause. While this is commonly the cause, sudden impact to the neck or upper body can also result in a concussion due to the associated sudden back and forth movement of the head.
How is a concussion evaluated?
There are several measures by which concussions are evaluated by both coaches and doctors. Depending on the symptoms, emergency room evaluation is at times necessary. While in most cases, scans such as head CTs are normal, there are times in which neurosurgical intervention is necessary. Signs of a severe concussion include prolonged loss of consciousness, repeated vomiting, seizures, severe or escalating headache, incontinence, weakness or numbness of any part of the body.
How long does it take to recover?
A typical mild concussion may last for days to weeks.
What if the symptoms last longer?
In post concussion syndrome, the symptoms may last for months. The brain takes time to heal. Symptoms such as headaches and insomnia are treated symptomatically until they resolve.
If my child plays sports, when can they return to play?
There are multiple guidelines developed my multiple groups of professionals, but the guidelines agree that any athlete suspected of having a concussion should be removed from play immediately, and that athletes should not return to play while signs or symptoms of concussion are present. Athletes who have any loss of consciousness, any symptoms of concussion lasting more than 15 minutes, or who have post-traumatic amnesia should not resume sports participation until asymptomatic for at least one week. They further recommend that an emergency department evaluation is indicated for any athlete who suffers loss of consciousness.
Baseline testing (testing before an injury occurs) is also available from doctors that treat concussions, which offers objective guidance regarding when an athlete may safely return to play after a concussion. These tests can also be useful if no baseline testing has been obtained.
If you believe you or a loved one has suffered a concussion, call for an appointment today.
Dr. Campbell began her career as a neurologist as an associate professor of clinical neurology for Vanderbilt University of Nashville TN. She attained staff appointment at Vanderbilt University Medical Center as well as Williamson Medical Center. After a six year tenure at Vanderbilt, Dr. Campbell transitioned to her current position as a neurologist with KCA Medical Group in 2008. She remains on staff at Williamson Medical Center, Franklin TN, where her home office is located. Dr. Campbell is board certified in neurology, and treats all neurological illnesses including migraines, epilepsy, back pain, neck pain, neuropathy, pinched nerves, carpal tunnel syndrome, multiple sclerosis and a host of other conditions. She offers multiple procedures to determine and treat the root cause of symptoms prior to treatment. KCA Medical Group is also an accredited center for Tysabri infusions (an intravenous treatment for Multiple Sclerosis).
To schedule an appointment, please call KCA Medical Group at 615.550.1800, or visit us online at www.kcadocs.com.