Concussion – Causes, Impact and Treatment

Table of Contents

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Understanding the Basics of Concussion

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that alters the way your brain functions. It’s caused by a blow or jolt to the head or body that makes the brain move rapidly back and forth, hitting the inner walls of the skull. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.

Types of a concussion

Common Causes of Concussion

Concussions are often caused by falls, car accidents, and sports injuries. High-risk activities include football, hockey, soccer, and boxing. However, a concussion can occur from any impact or blow to the head. Therefore, wearing appropriate protective gear and following safety rules can help prevent concussions.

Leading Causes of TBI

Understanding the Impact of Concussion on the Brain

A concussion, one of the most common types of traumatic brain injury, occurs due to a strong blow or jolt to the head. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce or twist within the skull, resulting in chemical changes in the brain and potentially damaging brain cells.

Post concussion syndrome

Areas of the Brain Affected by Concussion

Concussions can affect various parts of the brain, but the frontal and temporal lobes, responsible for cognition and memory, are most vulnerable. The corpus callosum, the brain’s communication bridge, can also sustain damage, disrupting the brain’s communication capabilities.

Healing After a Concussion

Healing after a concussion is a complex process and varies significantly from person to person. Rest is critical, allowing the brain to recover and restore its chemical balance. Cognitive and physical therapy may also be beneficial. Neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections, plays a crucial role in recovery.

healing process after a concussion

Signs and Symptoms of Concussion

A concussion, a type of traumatic brain injury, often results from a blow to the head. Recognizing the signs is crucial to ensure timely medical intervention. Symptoms can vary in severity and duration, ranging from subtle to severe.

  1. Physical Symptoms: Frequent signs include headaches, dizziness, nausea, and sensitivity to light or noise. Some people may also experience balance issues or blurred vision.
  2. Cognitive and Emotional Symptoms: Concussions can also impact your cognitive functions and emotions. Individuals may feel “foggy,” have difficulty concentrating, or experience memory problems. Mood changes, irritability, and depression are also common.

Remember, symptoms may not appear immediately and can develop hours or even days after the injury. If you suspect a concussion, seek medical attention promptly.

Understanding these symptoms can help identify a concussion quickly, facilitating early treatment and potentially reducing long-term effects. To learn more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Diagnosing a Concussion: Medical Assessments

Recognizing the symptoms of a concussion is critical, but definitive diagnosis comes through medical assessments. These can include a physical examination, a review of the patient’s medical history, and specific tests to check for cognitive and neurological issues. Symptoms such as confusion, headaches, and dizziness are often indicative of a concussion, but they can also signify other conditions, making proper medical evaluation essential.

Imaging Tests: CT Scans and MRIs

comparison of CT and MRI scans.

When a concussion is suspected, doctors may resort to imaging tests such as CT (Computed Tomography) scans or MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). These tests provide images of the brain that can help identify any potential damage or bleeding.

The Role of Neuropsychological Testing

Neuropsychological testing is a valuable tool in assessing the impact of a concussion on a patient’s cognitive functioning. These assessments, often administered by a neuropsychologist, evaluate memory, attention, problem-solving, and language abilities. They offer important insights into how the brain is functioning post-injury and can guide the recovery process.

Understanding these diagnostic tools is key to recognizing and treating concussions effectively.

Initial Treatment Approaches for Concussion

The initial treatment of a concussion is straightforward: rest. Patients are advised to take a break from physical activities that may exacerbate their symptoms and make a full recovery difficult. This includes sports, heavy lifting, and other strenuous tasks. For cognitive rest, limiting exposure to screens and avoiding mentally challenging tasks is also recommended. Mayo Clinic provides an in-depth guide on this.

Specific Treatments for Concussion Symptoms

Medications are often prescribed to manage specific concussion symptoms. For instance, headaches can be treated with pain relievers, while balance issues might require vestibular therapy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides detailed information on this.

The Role of Rehabilitation in Concussion Recovery

Rehabilitation plays a central role in concussion recovery. Physical therapy can help patients regain strength and balance, while occupational therapy can assist in restoring daily living skills. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more on this.

Long-Term Effects of Concussion

Concussions, despite being considered a “mild” form of traumatic brain injury, can have serious long-term effects. Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder that can cause headaches and dizziness weeks or even months after the injury. Symptoms can be especially pronounced when a person experiences multiple concussions over time, leading to cumulative neurological damage.

Post Concussion Symptoms

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) and Concussions

Research has also linked repeated concussions to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. This condition can lead to cognitive impairment, behavioral changes, and even dementia.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Stages

The Importance of Monitoring and Managing Long-Term Effects

Proper monitoring and management of concussions are essential to mitigate these long-term effects. Medical professionals play a crucial role in diagnosing concussions, advising on recovery strategies, and assessing potential long-term effects. Preventive measures, such as wearing appropriate protective gear in sports, can also help reduce the risk of concussions and their long-term effects.

Prevention and Safety Measures to Prevent Concussion

While concussions are an inherent risk in many physical activities, a strategic approach involving protective gear and safe play can significantly reduce this risk. Protective gear such as helmets and mouthguards play a crucial role in absorbing the impact, thus lessening the chance of a concussion. Furthermore, promoting safe play in sports, including proper techniques and respecting rules, can prevent dangerous situations leading to head injuries.

The Crucial Role of Education and Awareness

Education and awareness about concussions are paramount. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and treatments can empower players, coaches, and parents to recognize a concussion and seek immediate medical help. Knowledge about concussion is a powerful tool in prevention.

Current Policies and Regulations

Current policies and regulations are geared towards reducing the incidence of concussions, especially in youth sports. These laws typically involve mandatory concussion education for coaches and stricter return-to-play protocols.

Current Research Trends in Concussion

Recent years have seen an escalation in research focusing on concussion, an often under-diagnosed brain injury. The primary focus is on early detection, accurate diagnostics, and the long-term impacts of repeated concussions.

Estimated Increase in Concussion Studies Over Recent Years

Potential Future Treatments and Prevention Strategies

Future research is eyeing advanced neuroimaging techniques and biomarkers to detect concussions and monitor recovery. Additionally, strategies such as protective headgear and enforcing stricter sports safety rules are being evaluated for their potential to prevent concussions.

The Imperative of Continued Research

The CDC acknowledges that understanding concussion is crucial for developing effective treatments and prevention measures. As such, continued research in this area is of paramount importance.

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Due to popular demand, we are presently have no appointments available for new eating disorder patients. We are however, adding more staff to high demand, and more spaces will open up shortly. Please fill out the form below to register your interest.”

    Due to popular demand, we are presently have no appointments available for new eating disorder patients. We are however, adding more staff to high demand, and more spaces will open up shortly. Please fill out the form below to register your interest.

    Dr Martha Pyron
    Martha Pyron, MD
    Sports Medicine Specialist / Physician / Clinic Owner

    Dr. Pyron is board certified in both family medicine and sports medicine. She obtained her medical degree from The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, completed a residency program in Family Medicine at Southern Colorado Family Medicine, and pursued a fellowship in Sports Medicine at Michigan State University, Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies. After becoming board certified in both family medicine and sports medicine, she started her career as a team physician for Penn State University. She then returned to her home state of Texas and worked as a Sports Medicine Specialist and Team Physician for the University of Texas at Austin.


    Dr Pyron is currently the founder and president of Medicine in Motion. She is an active member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine. She maintains a relationship with the University of Texas by teaching classes for the Athletic Training students and by providing the Medical Director role for the Exercise In Aging Research Laboratory headed by Dr. Hiro Tanaka at the University of Texas. In 2012, Dr. Pyron also became certified in Musculoskeletal Sonography allowing her to provide diagnostic and procedural ultrasound exams in her office at the time of a patient visit!


    Dr. Pyron has lived and worked in Austin since 2003 and has developed extensive connections with specialized orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, athletic trainers, strength trainers, and other healthcare professionals who provide excellent service. She enjoys working together as a team with a variety of healthcare professionals to provide customized and optimal care for her patients.


    Although Dr. Pyron also has training and is board certified as a family physician, she prefers to limit her practice to sports medicine. This means that she wants you to maintain your relationship with your family doctor, but see her for sports injuries, training questions, or illnesses which affect your activity level. Please let her know how she may best help you!


    In her off time, Dr. Pyron enjoys a variety of outdoor and sports activities including soccer, softball, running, biking, mountain biking, strength training, yoga, swimming, and sailing.