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Types of Concussions

What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury.

Think of the human brain as an egg yolk and your skull as an eggshell. When your head or body takes a hit, it can cause your brain to shake around inside your skull and injure it.

There are a few ways a concussion can go after the initial impact — with some paths more severe than others.

While each type of concussion has a treatment that works well in most cases, each person is unique. Some may suffer from a range of problems or may find relief through a mix of treatments.

That's why the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program tailors your care to meet your personal needs.

Our research and outstanding results show that tailoring active therapy to each patient and their type of concussion helps them fully recover. And the faster they get proper care, the quicker they see results and the more effective the treatments are.

What Are the Six Types of Concussions?

Our concussion experts have found six different clinical paths that a concussion may take. Each requires a precise type of care to reach full recovery.

Cognitive/fatigue

This type of concussion can cause you to have trouble with prolonged or complex mental tasks, complex subject matter, and long days. It can sometimes cause increased fatigue as the day goes on.

Cognitive issues include:

  • Decreased concentration.
  • Increased distractibility.
  • Trouble learning/retaining new information.
  • Decreased multitasking skills.

Vestibular

This type of concussion can cause trouble with balance, motion, and vision.

Impairments of the vestibular system — the balance center of the brain — affect one's ability to:

  • Interpret motion.
  • Coordinate head and eye movements.
  • Steady or balance vision upon head movement.

Ocular

This type of concussion can cause you to have trouble with visual tasks like:

  • Reading long passages.
  • Looking at a computer screen or cell phone.

Ocular concussions affect tandem eye movements. This may result in trouble bringing the eyes together or moving one's eyes to track motion.

Post-traumatic migraine

This type of concussion can cause changes in your normal routine, such as sleeping in or avoiding loud concerts or sporting events.

Symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sensitivity to light or noise

Cervical

This type of concussion causes trouble with stress or pressure on the neck, spine, or spinal cord. It may lead to ongoing headaches.

Things such as slouching while on the computer or carrying a heavy backpack may worsen symptoms.

Anxiety/mood

This type of concussion makes it hard to turn your thoughts off and causes excessive worry or concern.

This can cause problems with social interaction and may worsen if you avoid routine activities because of your concussion.

Contact the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program

To make an appointment with one of our concussion doctors, call 412-432-3681.