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Concussion (traumatic brain injury): Picture, symptoms, causes, treatments

Concussion is a short loss of consciousness or other metal functions after a blow to the head or other accident. A person with concussion may 'see stars', be confused, or suffer from a loss of memory.

Concussion is the most common form of brain injury, but usually the least serious.

A major cause of concussion is sport injuries. Other causes include car and cycle accidents, work-related injuries, falls, and fighting.

Most people recover from concussion without medical help, but dial 999 if the person:

  • Is still unconscious, or having trouble staying awake
  • Is having a seizure or fit
  • Has bleeding from the ears
  • Is having trouble, speaking, or understanding what's being said to them

What is a concussion?

The brain is made of soft tissue. It is cushioned by spinal fluid and encased in the protective shell of the skull. When you sustain a concussion, the impact can jolt your brain. Sometimes, it literally causes it to slosh around in your head.


Traumatic brain injuries can cause bruising, damage to the blood vessels, and injury to the nerves.

The result? Your brain doesn't function normally. If you've suffered a concussion, your vision may be disturbed, you may lose your equilibrium, or you may fall unconscious. In short, your brain is confused.

Can children have concussions?

Because their heads are disproportionately large compared to the rest of their body, concussions often occur in young children. As children enter adolescence, they experience rapid height and weight gain. Both are factors that make them more prone to accidents than adults.

If a child has a concussion, an adult should monitor him or her for the first 24 hours. It's important to watch for behavioural changes. Young children, especially, may not be able to fully communicate what they are feeling, so it is critical to watch them closely. Do not give medication that might cause bleeding at the site of the injury, such as ibuprofen or aspirin. Never give aspirin to children under 16 years old unless a doctor advises otherwise.

What are the signs of a concussion?

Concussion can be tricky to diagnose. Though you may have a visible cut or bruise on your head, you can't actually see a concussion. Signs may not appear for days or weeks after the injury. Some symptoms last for just seconds, others may linger.

Concussion is fairly common. But it's important to recognise the signs of a concussion so you can take the appropriate steps to treat the injury.

There are some common physical, mental, and emotional symptoms a person may display following a concussion. Any of these could be a sign of traumatic brain injury:

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