Concussion, caused by a direct or indirect impact to the head or neck, is a frequent injury in sport, which requires cessation of activity until complete recovery.
What is a concussion?
A concussion occurs when an external force (a direct or indirect impact to the head) causes a disturbance in the functioning of the brain.
This jolt can be caused by a direct impact to the head, face or neck, as well as by an impact to any other part of the body causing an impulsive force transmitted to the brain.
The expression “concussion” is often used in the world of sports medicine while the term “mild traumatic brain injury” is rather used in the hospital setting.
“We see more and more concussions, in all sports,” says Jean-François Chermann, neurologist specializing in the subject. “In the Top 14 in rugby, there is one every two or three matches”. Apart from rugby, combat sports, American football, ice hockey, football, horse riding and board sports are particularly at risk.
What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?
According to the Brain Institute, based in Paris, the symptoms can be multiple: headaches, nausea and vomiting, and various neurological disorders such as loss of sensitivity, motor skills or aphasia, drowsiness or visual disturbances.
Depending on the severity of the trauma, it may be accompanied by loss of consciousness, immediately after the shock or several hours or days later, for example when a hematoma forms.
After a concussion, transient amnesias or signs of confusion may be present.
What to do in the event of an accident?
Whatever the trauma, it is advisable to consult a doctor, who can assess its severity. In the event of loss of consciousness following a shock, you must call the emergency services immediately.
Several examinations are carried out to make the diagnosis of head trauma. The first is a clinical and neurological examination. The development over time of certain symptoms in head trauma patients, such as severe headaches, significant coordination or balance disorders, repeated vomiting or convulsions, suggest a worsening of the cerebral state.
What are the consequences for the brain?
According to the Concussion Institute, based in Montreal (Canada), the immediate consequences of a concussion on brain tissue include hyperexcitation of neurons, micro tears in the fibers connecting different regions of the brain or even a change in oxygenation. cerebral.
Classically, the concussion syndrome evolves favorably in ten to 14 days, but in 15 to 30% of cases, we observe a persistence of disabling symptoms.
The researchers also wonder about the increased risk of the occurrence, in the long term, of neurodegenerative diseases.
What to do after a concussion?
The days that follow will play a critical role in brain recovery. Complete mental and physical rest is very important in the 24-48 hours following a concussion.
An athlete who returns to play before fully recovered from their concussion is three to five times more likely to suffer another concussion, according to the Concussion Institute.
“The concussion belongs to the light trauma said benign but is absolutely not insignificant, the player must leave immediately after suspicion of concussion and it is necessary to respect the essential rest before returning to the field”, affirms Mr. Chermann. “All the symptoms must have disappeared and not reappear during increasingly intense efforts. The brain must be given time to recover”.
“Today, 50% of concussed people in sport remain on the playing field or they risk injury, a new blow to the head which will result in prolonging the symptoms”, he adds.