A concussion is the most common type of head or brain injury, and can involve anything from a simple headache to severe brain damage. The actual definition of a concussion varies between medical experts and research, however it is generally accepted that concussions are head injuries that lead to the loss of brain function. The effects of a concussion depend on the severity of the head injury, which puts concussions into one of three grades:
The most widely accepted characteristics of a Grade 1 concussion are confusion, brief memory loss, a headache and no loss of consciousness. This grade of concussion commonly occurs with frequent athletic competition, in minor car accidents and household or work mishaps.
Symptoms: Some of the most common symptoms include dizziness, nausea, motion sickness, blurry vision, vomiting and impaired balance. Grade 1 symptoms tend to last between 15 and 30 minutes, however as with any concussion they can linger for days in minor capacities after the initial accident.
Treatment: There is no exact treatment for a Grade 1 concussion, as the symptoms just tend to disappear. The best way to treat a Grade 1 concussion is by simply resting and not rushing back into whatever activity it was that caused it. However, people who suffer from multiple Grade 1 concussions are recommended to receive additional medical evaluation. Should a vision impediment occur, or any other mechanical problems for that matter, consult a physician immediately.
Critics differ on whether or not there is a loss of consciousness with a Grade 2 concussion, but it is agreed that this type is generally a stronger version of a Grade 1, with initial symptoms lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to an entire day. Some medical experts also argue that a Grade 2 concussion can feature unconsciousness for up to five minutes.
Symptoms: A Grade 2 concussion can also feature brief memory loss, headaches and confusion, but is not generally associated with unconsciousness. While the symptoms of a Grade 1 concussion last up to 15 minutes, a Grade 2 can linger for as much as 24 hours, with additional traits lingering for days after. As concussions become more serious, the symptoms will increase in duration, and the victim can become more prone to light sensitivity and double vision.
Treatment: For Grade 2 concussions, once the effects have lingered past a half hour, aspirin or ibuprofen can be taken to reduce the pain of headaches. However, if the condition worsens over time, medical attention is required immediately. With a higher grade of concussion, it is essential that recovery not be mixed with alcohol or any drugs that have not been approved of by a physician. Twenty-four hour observation by a trusted loved one or medical staff is required to make sure that further symptoms don’t develop or current conditions don’t worsen.
This type of concussion involves unconsciousness and lasting presence of the aforementioned symptoms. Treatment and observation are required immediately as a Grade 3 concussion can signal mild brain damage or even brief comas. The effects of a Grade 3 concussion can last for weeks.
Symptoms: A Grade 3 concussion will feature brief unconsciousness that can last mere seconds to as many as five minutes. In serious cases, amnesia can set in for more than a day, in addition to more extreme cases of the aforementioned symptoms. People suffering from Grade 3 concussions can suffer from intense confusion and be found often repeating themselves, be prone to vacant staring and be slow to respond in basic conversation or movement.
Treatment: As with a Grade 2 concussion, observation is essential to a Grade 3, however immediate medical attention is required. Should the symptoms worsen in any manner (i.e. more frequent headaches, slurred speech, decreased motor skills, etc.) further medical attention will be required as there could be early signs of brain damage. Additionally, it is important to monitor the victim’s vision and eye coordination after a Grade 3 concussion, as differing pupil sizes are a telltale indicator or brain damage.
Prevention: Concussions often go undiagnosed or ignored as headaches, so it is important that caution is used when participating in any competitive sports, operating an automobile or working at home or work with heavy machinery or tools.