In recent news, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell suffered a concussion after a fall. While his condition has not been fully disclosed, the incident highlights the seriousness of concussions, particularly mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). As he recovers from the concussion, many people are curious about this common but often misunderstood injury. As a behavioral neurologist and researcher at NYU Langone Health and Chief Medical Officer at Isaac Health, I was interviewed to comment on the subject of concussion in a related New York Times article.
In this post, we will discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatments of concussion, as well as the importance of prompt medical attention and support for those affected by this condition, offering insights and advice based on experience in this field. Whether you are a sports enthusiast, an accident victim, or simply interested in learning more about concussion, read on to discover how to improve your chances of recovery and long-term health outcomes.
What is concussion?
A “concussion” is the medical term for a mild brain injury. It can cause confusion, memory loss, and headache — also known as mild traumatic brain injury. A concussion usually happens after a person hits their head. But in some cases, it can happen after an injury or accident that causes violent shaking of the head. According to the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, mild TBI is “a traumatically induced physiological disruption of brain function,” as manifested by any one of several features, including “any period of loss of consciousness, any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the accident, [or] any alteration in mental state at the time of the accident” as long as the severity of deficits doesn’t lead to an initial Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score of less than 13.
What are the most common causes of concussion?
Concussion can result from many types of accidents, including car crashes, falls, sports injuries, and combat-related injuries. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year, there are about 1.6 to 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions in the United States. These injuries can happen to anyone, regardless of age or gender, and can have serious consequences if left untreated.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
Symptoms that can happen immediately, or in the first minutes to hours after a concussion, include memory loss, confusion, headache, dizziness or trouble with balance, and nausea or vomiting. Some people recover quickly from a concussion and have no further symptoms. But others have symptoms that persist or happen hours to days after a concussion. These might include trouble walking or talking, memory problems or problems paying attention, trouble sleeping or feeling very tired or sleepy, mood or behavior changes, and being bothered by things like noise or light.
Will I need tests?
It depends on your injury and symptoms. To check if you have a concussion, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. They will also ask you questions to check that you are thinking clearly. If your doctor suspects a serious injury, they might order an imaging test of the brain, such as a CT or MRI scan. These tests create pictures of the skull and inside of the brain.
How is a concussion treated?
If you think that you are having symptoms related to a head injury or concussion, see a doctor or nurse. This might be your regular doctor, or they might refer you to a different doctor. Treatment of a concussion involves preventing further injury, resting, avoiding physical activity or sports, and taking medication for pain or other symptoms. If you have
How can you prevent a concussion?
There’s no guaranteed way to prevent concussions. But you can take steps to help reduce your risk, such as:
- Wearing protective gear – Wear helmets, mouth guards, and other protective equipment when playing sports or participating in recreational activities.
- Buckling up – Make sure you and your passengers wear seat belts when driving.
- Don’t drink and drive – Alcohol and drugs can impair your reaction time and judgment. Avoid them when you’re driving, operating heavy machinery or doing other activities that require alertness and coordination.
- Make your home safer – Keep floors and walkways free of clutter, and install handrails on staircases. Improve the lighting in your home and fix any uneven flooring.
We wish Senator McConnell a speedy recovery and hope that he will receive the best possible care for his concussion. This unfortunate event highlights the importance of recognizing the signs and symptoms of concussion, seeking prompt medical attention, and taking steps to prevent head injuries. If you or someone you know has suffered a head injury or concussion, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. At Isaac Health, we specialize in diagnosing and treating brain health conditions, which may include more chronic symptoms of concussion. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists. Remember, talking about brain health conditions like concussion is critical to improving awareness, helping people get the treatment they need to increase the likelihood of recovery, and thus increasing the chances for better long term health outcomes.
World Health Organization (WHO) – https://www.who.int/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – https://www.cdc.gov/
Mayo Clinic – https://www.mayoclinic.org/
National Institutes of Health (NIH) – https://www.nih.gov/