What is a Concussion?
When there is a degree of impact or trauma to the head an individual is at risk of developing a concussion. A concussion is defined as a disruption in consciousness and a decrease in mental function. Symptoms of a concussion can range from a temporary loss in consciousness to a mild headache. Patients may show signs of disruption in muscle coordination, balance, and reflex. Speech, judgement, and memory may also be impaired. Often, a patient may not remember the events before or after the time of injury. Dr. Braxton, a concussion specialist, has the expertise to diagnose a concussion and to provide a treatment plan to ensure proper recovery. No concussion is minor and each injury should be taken seriously.
What are the Signs of a Concussion?
The signs of a concussion can be difficult to detect. Signs may be immediate or may manifest days to weeks after the trauma. Any patient who has experienced trauma to the head should be observed for the following symptoms:
- Feeling dizzy or clumsy
- Difficulty with memory or concentration
- Sensitivity to noise or light
- Feeling sluggish, dazed or confused
- Vomiting or nausea
- Impaired senses, vision blurring, ears ringing
- Personality or behavioral changes
What Can Concussions Lead To?
Concussions can lead to a brief, moderate or lingering recovery period. Concussions are rated on a grading scale.
A grade 1, or mild concussion, has no loss of consciousness but minor confusion that lasts less than 15 minutes after impact.
A grade 2 concussion also has no loss of consciousness but a longer symptomatic period that lasts greater than 15 minutes.
A grade 3 concussion is distinct. The patient loses consciousness, even if very briefly, along with the other neurological symptoms.
It is critical that the concussion patient makes a gradual return to normal physical and mental activity. This is best done methodically and over time allowing the brain to demonstrate capacity and healing before adding further stress. If the patient rushes any of the recovery timing it can lead to a regression of the healing process; guarding against a repeat injury is essential. A re-injury may have a more serious consequence, even permanent damage.
How Do I Know I Have a Concussion?
As a neurosurgeon and concussion specialist, Dr. Braxton can provide a diagnosis of neurotrauma concussion. He will gather a patient history, description of the trauma event, and any immediate symptoms. A physical and neurological examination will indicate any impact on bodily and mental function. Serious symptoms may require diagnostic imaging including x-ray, MRI, CT scan or EMG. Injury to brain tissue is not indicated on these images but other discrepancies can be ruled out. Vision and eye testing may be indicated to evaluate visual changes.
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Does a Concussion Go Away on Its Own?
By following Dr. Braxton’s recommended treatment plan a concussion can heal on its own. It is essential that the patient complies to the requisite rest, monitoring, and step-by-step return to mental and physical activities. Patients should commit to monitoring the ongoing improvements that are expected by following the concussion protocols carefully and methodically.
How to Treat a Concussion?
In most cases, a concussion will improve on its own not requiring major medical treatment or surgery. Pain medication can relieve headache symptoms. Rest and a slow return to normal activities is the primary course to recovery. In the immediate period following injury patients should avoid operating a car, bicycle or machinery; alcohol should also be avoided. With time, all activities can be reintroduced to the patient with intense monitoring of any triggered regression. Surgery may be indicated if diagnostics indicate any of the following:
Swelling of the brain tissue
Injury to the brain
Bleeding of the brain
Dr. Braxton offers non-surgical and advanced surgical treatments for the recovery from a concussion with the goal of returning the patient to their activities and preferred lifestyle as quickly as possible.