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Long Term Effects of Concussions

Jun 1, 2015

Concussions are common among athletes, especially those involved in high-impact sports, but even so, the severity of this injury should never be minimized. If you or someone you know suffers from a concussion, you should seek treatment immediately and take steps to prevent a future concussion from occurring. If not, the long-term effects on the brain could be very serious.

A concussion is a common brain injury caused by a traumatic blow to a person’s head or body. This can result from people colliding, an object being thrown at someone’s head, or a person falling to the ground. It’s also common to experience a concussion when involved in a motor vehicle accident.

When a concussion occurs, the way the brain functions is altered. Depending on the extent of the damage, the concussion is classified as mild, moderate, or severe. The size and location of the injury will also determine what types of symptoms emerge, such as cognitive deficits or behavioral issues. Symptoms will also vary from person to person, but typically include the following:

  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Double or fuzzy vision
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Nausea
  • Slow reaction time
  • Amnesia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Feeling sluggish, foggy, or groggy
  • Feeling emotional
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances

Typically, concussion symptoms will last anywhere from one to six weeks. However, some people may experience post-concussion syndrome in which symptoms last much longer than this. While long-term effects of concussions are rare, they still occur and can include the following:

  • Trouble focusing and paying attention
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks
  • Feeling ‘slower’
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Difficulty processing a lot of information
  • Trouble resolving problems

Multiple Concussions

Dealing with multiple concussions over time can be very dangerous, so it’s even more crucial to protect yourself if you’ve already experienced one concussion in your lifetime. Repeated concussions have been shown to cause permanent damage to the brain and even dementia later in life.

Repetitive Head Injuries

Second impact syndrome occurs when someone experiences a second head injury while still dealing with symptoms of the first. The second injury can occur days or weeks after the first, and can cause cerebral edema and herniation which could lead to death.

It’s for this reason that athletes must absolutely wait until their concussion symptoms have fully dissipated before returning to play or even before participating in rigorous physical activity.

Protect Your Body

Because a concussion is very serious, it’s vital that you take all the steps you can to protect your head and your body. Make sure you wear a fitted helmet, mouth guard, and other protective gear. And remember, a blow to the body can cause a concussion just as a blow to the head will.

If you’re dealing with a serious injury and are considering surgery, download our e-book, Your How-To Guide to Choosing an Orthopaedic Surgeon.