The Mighty ‘C’ Word

I am hoping to bring the information about a concussion to a level that everyone can understand.  Recently I have been on a media blitz and am finding out that people know about a concussion but not what a concussion is.  The hope is that this original article will help with understanding.  You may link and use parts of this article as needed, however you may not reprint it without expressed written consent from The Concussion Blog and Dustin Fink, MS, ATC.  I hope you enjoy and looking for some feedback as well, ALL feedback!!!

What is a Concussion?

Simply put a concussion is an injury to the brain.  There are much more complex pathophysiological (I know huge word, sorry bout that) mechanisms happening to the brain.  What is not so complex is that your brain, my brain, our brains do not repair themselves, nor do we have the technology to repair them.  Every individual is given ONE brain, and really it amounts to a mound of jello suspended in fluid, pretty fragile, eh?

As the brain is violently and abruptly shifted inside its case (skull) it creates a cascade of events down to the cellular level.  Instead of boring you with medical terminology just think of your brain as a snow globe.  When all is good the flakes in the globe are at rest and the water is clear.  Now shake the snow globe.  The flakes are flying everywhere without rhyme or reason; this is a concussion (at its basic level).

During the excitement of the flakes the brain does not function correctly sending the body signals that are impairing function such as; headache, blurred vision, balance disturbance.  The brain wants to function normally however with all the chemicals, hormones and such “flying” around – out of order – the normal responses to signals the brain is used to sending is no longer happening.  We as clinicians have been able to, through research, identify areas of the brain impacted by the sudden insult to the brain due to the types of signs and symptoms presented.

In order for the brain to return to normal functioning every single flake in that snow globe must come to rest, and be at a complete restful state.  Returning to activity – ALL ACTIVITY includes physical and COGNITIVE stresses – too soon makes it MUCH easier to excite the flakes once again, and even make the symptoms and reaction much worse (think Sidney Crosby).  Getting a second insult to the brain before all the chaos has subsided WILL translate into a longer recovery period, and in adolescents this can lead to Second Impact Syndrome, a killer.  Even if there is one little tiny flake floating around in your snow globe, your brain is NOT READY for any more trauma, PERIOD.

What to look for

With a concussive episode the brain sending improper signals results in SIGNS and SYMPTOMS; Continue reading