1. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury, usually with minimal consequences if it is handled properly. Symptoms may include confusion, disorientation, memory loss, slowed reaction times and extreme emotional reactions.
2. A loss of consciousness is not necessary for a diagnosis of concussion. In fact, 90 percent of concussions do not involve a loss of consciousness.
3. Neuroimaging (including CT and MRI scans) cannot reveal whether a person has had a concussion, however computerized tomography scans or magnetic resonance imaging is often used to rule out more serious bleeding in the brain.
4. Repeated blows to the head are dangerous. “If you have another injury before you’re fully recovered from the first concussion, and you start stacking them up, we know that can have very significant consequences,” says Brian Rieger PhD, director of Upstate’s Concussion Management Program.
He says chronic traumatic encephalopathy, from repeated head injuries, used to be called “Boxer’s Dementia,” but now is seen in football players and hockey players. In addition, rates of dementia and depression are significantly higher among retired football players than the general population, and head injuries are thought to be responsible.
5. Management of concussions is straightforward: Remove the person from risk of re-injury, and limit their physical and mental exertion during a three-week recovery period.
6. The best treatment for concussion is sleep and rest. Current medical advice says that it is not dangerous to allow a child to sleep after a head injury, once they have been medically evaluated.