A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a direct or indirect hit to your head or body.
Your brain sits inside your skull surrounded by fluid. When your head takes a hit — as often happens in contact sports — your brain shifts or shakes around inside the skull.
The impact damages your brain cells, causing neurochemical and cellular changes in the brain.
The most common cause of a concussion is a hard, direct hit in contact sports. It can also happen from an indirect hit that causes your head to jerk, like when you get whiplash.
Sports that increase an athlete's risk of concussion include:
Younger athletes and females tend to take longer to recover from concussions.
A concussion causes changes in brain functioning, such as reduced reaction time. This can increase your chance of getting another concussion if you return to play before seeking treatment.
Repeated concussions can cause complications such as lasting cognitive problems.
No athlete should return to the game until all symptoms are gone and a doctor has cleared him or her to play.
Every concussion is different. There are six clinical types, based on concussion signs and symptoms.
This is why — when it comes to concussion treatment — there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model.
The experts at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program have been pioneering concussion treatment for more than a decade.
Our team designs active concussion recovery programs tailored to each patient's unique:
If you — or your coaches, parents, or athletic trainers — suspect you have a concussion, it's crucial that you stop activity right away and see a medical professional specifically trained in concussion management.
To make an appointment or learn more about concussions, contact the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program at 412-432-3681.
Learn how UPMC's Sports Medicine Concussion Program is ReThinking Concussions or see the resources below (links open a new browser window):
UPMC's HealthBeat Blog:
From our Health Library:
The signs of a concussion aren't always obvious.
Not many people lose consciousness because of a concussion. In fact, concussion “knocks out” only about 10 percent of people who sustain the traumatic brain injury.
The most common symptoms of concussion are:
No two concussions are the same.
A doctor trained in diagnosing and managing concussions will need to do a detailed exam and perform a cognitive test to tell the grade and severity of the concussion.
During the exam, your doctor will check your:
Because each head injury is unique, the team of specialists at UPMC works closely to test and treat your concussion.
Cognitive tests — such as ImPACT™ (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) — are the key tools we use to diagnose signs of a concussion.
The ImPACT test looks at your:
Cognitive tests alone cannot diagnose a concussion.
You may also have a neurovestibular exam as part of the initial evaluation. This exam looks for vestibular, balance, and ocular problems that often occur with a concussion.
Your doctor may order imaging tests — such as MRI or CT scans — to make sure your brain is not bruised or bleeding.
To confirm a concussion diagnosis, your doctor will use all of the data from your:
To make an appointment with an expert at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program — or to learn more about concussion symptoms and tests— call 412-432-3681.
Anyone who suspects a concussion should stop activity and seek medical care right away. Early treatment is the best way to recover faster and prevent further brain damage.
At the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, we tailor treatment plans based on each patient's unique needs and concussion symptoms.
Treatment goals focus on healing your symptoms and allowing your brain to recover.
UPMC Sports Medicine offers many concussion treatment options including:
To make an appointment with an expert at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program — or to learn more about concussion management and treatment — call 412-432-3681.
When you suffer from a concussion, you can turn to the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.
We believe that learning more about concussions makes a difference in your recovery and helps prevent future head injuries. That's why we've compiled this list of resources.
If you still have questions or just want to talk to one of our concussion experts, call 412-432-3681.
The links below will open a new browser window.
To schedule an appointment with one of our concussion experts or for more information about our program, call 412-432-3681.
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