What is a Concussion?

What is a Concussion?

This video describes what happens to the brain when a concussion occurs, as well as which groups of patients may experience longer recovery times.

“What is a Concussion?” Video Transcript

At UPMC, we’ve studied concussion for many years and we’ve learned some very interesting facts about the injury.

First, there’s 1.8 to 3.6 million concussions occurring per year in this country in sports and recreational activities.

We’ve also found that younger kids or children, take longer to recover than adults. When you compare high school kids vs. college athletes, high school kids take the longest to recover. When you compare high school kids to NFL players, they take longer to recover.

We’ve also learned that, many may not realize, that outcomes in girls maybe a little more dangerous than outcomes in boys with concussion.

We’ve also learned that management of concussion is absolutely critical.

If you allow the brain to recover following concussion, we don’t necessarily see accumulative effect of the injury. The best way to prevent problems with concussions is to management effectively when you have one and to make sure the athletes fully recover before they go back to play.

The word concussion literally translates from Latin to English to mean, to shake violently. Think about the brain as an yolk inside an eggshell and the brain moving inside the skull is going to produce what we see with concussion.

At the end of the day, what happens with concussion is that certain chemicals come out of the cell that shouldn’t go out, and certain chemicals go into the cell that shouldn’t go in and produces an energy problem to the brain.

We know that we have to allow patients to recover fully from this injury. If these energy problems are not recovered fully and the athlete goes back to play too soon, far less force is going to cause far more serious outcomes. And we also don’t want to push kids through this exertionally because there is an energy problem, so it has to be managed very carefully.