According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, a concussion is defined by “a change in brain function following an external force to the head” in awake individuals, measured by neurological and cognitive dysfunction.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
Concussions or traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are caused by external forces, blows or jolts to the head, neck or upper body during. Most common causes include:
- Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA)
- Sports Injury
- Unintentional Blunt Trauma
If you or a loved one are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.
- Impaired Balance
- Impaired Attention
- Impaired Memory
- Vision Problems
- Loss of Consciousness
- Slow Reaction to Stimuli
Seek out a local medical provider to receive a formal diagnosis and treatment plan:
- Emergency Room
- Urgent Care Facility
- Primary Care Doctor’s Office
Moderate to Severe Symptoms
- Inability to Wake Up
- Draining of Blood or Clear Fluid from the Ears or Nose
- Unequal Pupil Size
- Abnormal Eye Movement
- Lasting Confusion
- Slurred Speech
- Repeated Vomiting
- Weak Muscles
- Problems Walking
Call 911 for immediate medical attention and avoid movement of the head, neck and spine.
Today, there is no one standard test for diagnosing concussions.
Doctors may conduct an interview, neurological examination, cognitive tests, imaging or observation to determine a concussion and its severity level.
The medical community is currently exploring the following cutting-edge technologies for concussion diagnosis:
- Sway Medical is a mobile app that measures balance, reaction time and symptoms to assist with medical decisions.
- EYE-SYNC by ThinkSync is an eye-tracking technology through mobile goggles to measure a person’s visual attention within seconds. It can be used on the playing field or battlefield to get an immediate prognosis.
- New studies show that blood biomarkers may detect brain damage and the kind of brain damage a patient has endured to guide treatment options.
- Diffusion Tensor Imaging is being used to detect trace damage indications in cerebral white matter, which is believed to represent brain swelling that is not detected in other imaging tests today.
- Accelerometers are small, highly-sophisticated sensors embedded in protective gear to measure the force and number of impacts a player sustains to detect a concussion the moment it happens.
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) tests are being used to detect abnormalities in the electrical activity of the brain of concussion patients to look at correlations with seizures and other disorders.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR
- What is the purpose of the test?
- What is involved in the medical test?
- Is the test urgent? Does it need to be done within 24 hours?
- What is the cost? Will my insurance cover it?
- What are the potential side effect or risks of the test?
- Will the test confirm a diagnosis?
- When can I expect my test results?
- What do the test results means in terms of diagnosis, treatment or prognosis?
At the Time of Diagnosis
- What is the severity level of my concussion? What is my exact diagnosis?
- Would you explain my imaging report to me?
- May I have a copy of the imaging report and doctor’s notes for my records?
- Do I need any more tests?
- What treatment options are available to me?
- What are the benefits and potential side effects of each treatment you recommend?
- Is there one treatment you recommend over others?
- When should I return to work or play?
- Do you have any neurology or rehabilitation clinic referrals?
- Will my insurance cover second opinions and treatment?
- Where can I learn more about my diagnosis (ex. Websites and books)?
- What support services do you recommend?
UNDERSTANDING A CONCUSSION DIAGNOSIS
Concussion or Minor Traumatic Brain Injury
A concussion is also known as a minor head trauma, minor traumatic brain injury (TBI), minor brain injury or minor head injury.
A minor TBI is defined by a loss of consciousness that is less than 30 minutes or not at all. Symptoms can be delayed days or weeks after the initial injury. The person often looks and moves normally, but doesn’t feel well.
Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
A moderate TBI is defined by a loss of consciousness from 20 minutes to 6 hours and a Glasgow Coma Scale from nine to 12. A severe TBI is defined by a loss of consciousness for greater than 6 hours and a Glasgow Coma Scale of three to eight. Symptoms in this case are much more severe and apparent.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a complex disorder in which various symptoms — such as headaches or dizziness — lasts for weeks and sometimes months after the injury that caused the concussion.” Five to 10 percent of people with PCS suffer for longer than one month.
HOW TO NAVIGATE RECOVERY
Part memoir and part resource, the ebook comes alongside concussion rehab like a close friend to support the healing process. It’s packed with practical resources, support and inspiration to guide and promote recovery.
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