Concussions Concussions are a huge issue and increasing in sports/activities


Coup-Contrecoup: a coup injury occurs under the site of impact with an object, and a contrecoup injury occurs on the side opposite the area that was hit. Coup and contrecoup injuries are associated with cerebral contusions, a type of traumatic brain injury in which the brain is bruised.

Diffuse Axonal: is a brain injury in which damage in the form of extensive lesions in white matter tracts occurs over a widespread area.

Pathophysiological: the disordered physiological processes associated with disease or injury.

Biomechanical: relating to the mechanical laws concerning the movement or structure of living organisms.

Polymers: a substance that has a molecular structure consisting chiefly or entirely of a large number of similar units bonded together.

Millinewton: is a force measurement unit.

What are the different types of brain injuries?

There are two different types of brain injury: there is traumatic brain injury (TBI) and acquired brain injury (ABI). According to the Brain Injury Alliance in Utah they state that “ABI results from damage to the brain caused by strokes, tumors, anoxia, hypoxia, toxins, degenerative diseases, near drowning and/or other conditions not necessarily caused by an external force.” They found that Concussions, Contusions, Coup-Contrecoup, Diffuse Axonal, and Penetration are categorized as a TBI. The medical consensus statements from the American College of Sports Medicine Medical states that “TBI is caused by an external force -- such as a blow to the head -- that causes the brain to move inside the skull or damages the skull”. Both TBI and ABI are very serious types of brain damage and it can be very hard to recover from these injuries. Some of these injuries can be a life-long injury and can also cause a concussion.

What is a concussion?

A concussions is a violent shock to the brain caused from a jolt or hit to the head. According to the consensus statement of the 2012 International Conference on Concussions in Sport, concussion is defined “as a complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by biomechanical forces.” In sports such as football, an example of a biomechanical force would be a head on tackle when two heads hit each other. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio claims that, “Concussions do not always involve being “knocked out,” or a loss of consciousness. A concussion occurs whenever a child’s mental status changes as a result of trauma (usually a blow to the head). A child who shows signs of a mental confusion or is “dinged” by a blow to the head had suffered a concussion. There are many different definitions of concussion but these ones have a better definition as to what it is and a better explanation. There are different things that can occur during a concussion depending on how one was hit.

This picture represents the brains movement when hit by an object for example a baseball.

What happens during a concussion?

During a concussion the brain moves around inside the skull and hitting the walls causing different types of brain injury. Professor David Menon from the University of Cambridge found that “During an impact, the brain is pushed against the inside of the skull, and can be bruised. In addition, different parts of the brain can move at different speeds, producing shearing forces that can stretch and tear nerve tissue.” Because of an impact to the head it causes the brain to move and when the brain tears the nerve tissues that is when the different types of injuries can occur like a contusion for example. In a video Concussion / Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), it showed what happens during a high-speed coup contrecoup impact. “The impact may be violent enough to cause swelling and bruising of the brain tissue called a contusion.” Depending on how hard the impact is can result in different types of brain injury and what happens during the process. Every concussion is different. After a concussion there are different things you can do to treat a concussion.

This picture represents how a concussion happens. Where the brain is hit and the motion while being hit.

What is the treatment for concussions?

The best treatment for a concussion would be rest. Some doctors may recommend to take Advil or ibuprofen but the number one treatment is rest. Simone Isadora Flynn an education and communications consultant states, “Athletes who experience concussions during sports are medically advised to rest and to avoid contact sports and any other strenuous cognitive or physical activity until symptoms are gone and the athlete has completed a gradual return-to-play progression of increased activity, which often takes seven to ten days but may take several weeks or even months.” It is important to get as much rest as possible and to not be doing any sports related activities. Staff from the Mayo Clinic say, “This rest also includes limiting activities that require thinking and mental concentration, such as playing video games, watching TV, schoolwork, reading, texting or using a computer, if these activities trigger your symptoms or worsen them.” Rest is key. By doing activities and being in front of a screen can impact how long the recovery will take.

What are the future solutions to concussions?

Some future solutions are being tested to this day and will hopefully be the new best solution to prevent concussions. Some possible solutions could be the structure of the helmet for sports or taking a concussion pill. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, “have developed a film that changes color when it’s hit. It’s made of polymers that link together to form crystals that refract light. The structure of the crystals morphs on impact, causing the color to change. The film starts out red. After a force of 30 millinewtons, it turns green, and after a slam of 90 millinewtons, it turns purple. It stays that way permanently to record the force.” This will help because it changes color right away and will help indicate if there is a concussion or not. The Weill Cornell Medicine Concussion and Brain Injury Clinic plan to make a “New MRI “pulse sequences” that will help us to take pictures of the brain in higher definition, so that we can better see structural deficits in the connections that allow the brain to “talk” to the rest of the body.” Both future solutions are great solutions and should help prevent the amount of concussions that occur during sports each and every year.

The brain on the left shows a brain that is not injured and the brain on the right is a brain that has a concussion.

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