Anatomy of Concussions — Pennsylvania Injury Information

Concussions are generally underestimated in terms of the the effects of the injury. Beyond getting a lump on your head, a lot of people aren’t sure what exactly happens when one gets a concussion.

In fact, a lump on the head is not a universal sign of a concussion. Many concussions occur without even a scratch on the head. But all concussions affect the brain in a similar way — by injuring the organ on a cellular level.

A Striking Blow

Probably the most-known cause of concussions is a blow to the head. This can occur during a fall down accident, in a car accident, or during sports, but the common denominator is that the skull is being struck either by an object or a hard surface. What often occurs in these situations is an open head injury, which can mean scratching, bruising, or, more severe, fracturing. These signs indicate for doctors that extensive medical evaluations are necessary.

Acceleration / Deceleration

A different, lesser known cause of concussions is when the brain is rattled. Similar to whiplash injury, this occurs when the head is jolted (quick acceleration or deceleration); for example, during a car accident. The brain, having a little room, will smash into the skull wall. Such an injury can cause internal bruising and bleeding without one sign of injury on the outside of the skull. This is called a closed head injury.

What Actually Happens to the Brain

When something strikes the skull, or when the brain crashes into the skull wall, brain tissue is damaged, either by being stretched, compressed, torn, or all three. The product of this is often that cell colonies are ripped or otherwise damaged. In an attempt to offer aid to their neighbors, other cells will send stimulating chemicals to the damaged cells. Because the cells of the brains are in such a state of emergency, the injured person will often experience symptoms like dizziness, bewilderment, dulled response time, and even loss of consciousness.

Such an ordeal can cause cells to die or remain weak for extended periods. The weakened cells are particularly susceptible to subsequent injuries — a major reason why athletes, like NFL football players, are pulled from games and sometimes kept from playing for a couple weeks. Multiple concussions can lead to severe long-term brain trauma. They can even be fatal.

With adequate treatment and rest, the brain can recover from concussive damage. To help recovery, it is recommended that men and women with head injuries refrain from athletics, video games / television, and the sort of work which requires extended and focused concentration.

 We are doing a lot of writing concussions at the moment, so if you’d like to know more about head injuries, please visit the other articles on this website. Such as “New Pennsylvania Law Addresses the Health Risks Linked to Concussions in Children.” Also, try typing “concussions” or “traumatic brain injuries” in the search field on your right.