Infographic: What is a Concussion?
What is a Concussion?
With nearly 3 million sports related concussions a year and awareness for this serious condition growing, you might be wondering exactly what a concussion is. The word concussion comes from Latin and means “to shake violently.”
A concussion occurs when an impact to the head or body causes the brain to shift or move inside the skull. Think of your brain like a yoke inside an eggshell. Just as the yoke can move around inside of the shell, your brain can move around inside the skull.
The Science of Concussion
During a concussive injury, Potassium ions (K+) exit the neuron, while Calcium ions (Ca) rush into the cell. When the calcium enters, it causes the blood vessels to constrict, resulting in decreased blood supply to the brain. This diminished cerebral blood flow causes an increased demand for energy, hence the “energy crisis.”
If these energy problems are not recovered fully before an athlete returns to play, far less force can cause far more serious outcomes.
Concussion Treatment Options
The experts at UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program have been researching and treating patients with concussion. Their research has identified and established individualized treatment approaches to each clinical concussion trajectory:
Each concussion clinical trajectory has its own unique symptoms and treatment, which means no two concussions are the same and there is no simple timetable for recovery. Because of this, concussions have to be managed very carefully. Any suspected concussions should be examined by a medical provider specifically trained in the treatment and management of concussions.