A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that affects your brain’s ability to function normally. The symptoms are usually temporary. However, while they last, they may include headaches and difficulties with memory and concentration. Your motor skills may also be affected in some cases; you may experience trouble maintaining your balance as well as with co-ordination. They are usually the result of a blow to the head. However, you can also get one from violently shaking your head and/or upper body and causing your brain to violently collide with the inside of your skull. If you play contact sports like hockey, football, boxing and even soccer, you face a constant risk that you may one day experience a concussion. However, concussions can happen in many other circumstances, such as motor vehicle accidents, military combat or something as simple as a fall (especially for adults or young children). In this post, we discuss some of the initial signs that you may have a concussion injury. We also discuss how long it may take to recover from a concussion injury and whether you can treat a concussion injury at home.
Initial Signs Of A Concussion
It is important to realize that the initial signs of a concussion may be extremely subtle and more obvious signs may not appear for days, or even weeks, after you experience the injury causing the concussion. It is also important to understand that wearing a helmet does not eliminate the risk of experiencing concussion. Concussions are the result of not just impact but movement (such as jerking the head back and forth) that causes the brain to collide with the inner walls of your skull. So unusual symptoms observed after a fall or collision should not be ignored just because the patient or athlete was wearing a helmet.
The more obvious initial signs of a concussion injury can include:
- Losing consciousness or finding it difficult to remain conscious;
- Experiencing severe head pains;
- Dizziness, accompanied by difficulty maintaining your balance while standing or walking;
- Confused thoughts, together with possible difficulty remembering the events leading up to your injury;
- Nausea and possible vomiting;
If you experience one of more of these symptoms after a blow to your head, you should seek immediate and urgent medical attention.
In some case, you may not exhibit any unusual signs after receiving a blow to the head. The first symptoms of a concussion may appear until hours or days later the injury has occurred. They may include the following:
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering events or facts;
- Personality changes such as bouts of irritability;
- Increased sensitivity to light or sounds;
- Disturbed sleep;
- Depression or other psychological problems;
- Malfunctioning senses of taste or smell.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Concussion?
Recovery from a concussion can take between 7 to 10 days provided you follow the correct steps. These include:
Following your doctor’s orders. This is the first on the list for a reason – it is also the most important;
- Reducing the eyestrain from looking at bright lights and computer, television or similar screens;
- Limiting your exposure to sources of bright lights or loud signs;
- Keeping hydrated;
- Avoiding unnecessary movement of your head or neck. This would include avoiding the type of vigorous sporting activity that may have given rise to the concussion injury in the first place;
- Get lots of rest;
- Eat lots of protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Studies have indicated that consumption of branched chain amino acids (found in protein rich foods) and omega 3 fatty acids may help to mitigate some of the cognitive problems associated with concussion;
- Increase your consumption of antioxidants. Research also suggests that these may improve your memory and neural functioning;
- Be patient and ignore the urge to resume vigorous activity until your doctor says this would be OK.
Ignoring any of the above steps may unnecessarily increase the time required to recover from your concussion.
Can I treat A Concussion Injury At Home?
In considering whether you should try to treat a concussion at home, we strongly advise following your doctor’s advice and not treating your injury at home without his or her agreement. A concussion is a serious injury and should always be treated as such. If your doctor agrees that you can treat your concussion at home, you can follow these steps:
Get lots of rest to give your brain a chance to heal;
- Use cold therapy to reduce any bruising to the side of the head. Be careful to avoid any direct contact between ice or the cold pack and your bare skin. Ice therapy is particularly useful in treating any bruising you have to your head or face;
- Follow the steps listed above under “How long Does It Take To Recover From Concussion?”.