A concussion is a violent jar or shock to the brain causing an immediate change in brain function, including a possible loss of consciousness. The effects of a concussion are usually temporary, but they may be cumulative; the more often one sustains concussions, the more long-term effects, such as slurred speech, slow movements, slow thought processes, and tremors, may occur. Concussions are usually graded based on the length and severity of the change in brain function.
Symptoms depend on the extent of the injury. The presence or absence of swelling at the injury site is not related to the seriousness of the injury.
The initial treatment includes an immediate evaluation, occasionally requiring hospitalization for observation and treatment as needed. If the patient is to be watched at home, awaken every 1 to 2 hours for 24 hours or as recommended. Report to the physician immediately if you cannot awaken or arouse the person. Also report any of the following:
Return to play is a controversial subject and should be discussed at length with your treating physician. Factors such as the length of time of unconsciousness, amnesia and other altered brain functions, and whether this is the first, second, or third concussion all play a role in timing a patient's return to sports.
Do not give any medicine, including nonprescription acetaminophen or aspirin, until the diagnosis is certain, because these may mask developing symptoms.
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