Concussions: What You Need to Know

A concussion is a brain injury resulting in trauma. The condition is caused by blows, bumps, or jolts to the head. The impact causes the brain to bounce or twist. It creates chemical changes or damage to brain cells, leading to concussions.

The Severity of the Concussion

Concussions often aren’t a threat to life. Most concussions get diagnosed as “mild.” But trust that doesn’t mean a concussion isn’t a serious matter.

Our brains consist of soft tissue cushioned by spinal fluid encased in the skull. Even a weak blow can jolt the brain, causing it to shift and hit the skull. Depending on the severity, the brain can also stop functioning effectively.

There are three main types of concussions. Clinicians look at symptoms of concussions to determine a rank.

  • Grade 1: This is the mildest condition. Symptoms go away within 15 minutes. There’s also no loss of consciousness.
  • Grade 2: Categorized as moderate, symptoms last longer than 15 minutes. There’s still no loss of consciousness.
  • Grade 3: Potentially severe, the person loses consciousness even if only for seconds.


A person may experience mental, physical, as well as emotional symptoms. These can include:

  • Disorientation
  • Clumsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Sluggishness
  • Ringing in ears
  • Unexplainable personality or behavior changes
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of memory or consciousness
  • Fatigue or lack of sleep
  • Repeating oneself
  • Slowed response
  • Depression
  • Issues with smell or taste

Here are circumstances that increase the possibility of a concussion.

  • Falls (the most susceptible victims being mature adults and children)
  • Contact sports
  • Vehicular accidents
  • Being struck, hit, or receiving other physical abuse
  • Earlier concussion

Coup, Contrecoup, and Coup-Contrecoup

The coup (pronounced “coo”), contrecoup (“contra coo”), and coup-contrecoup are other forms of traumatic brain injury.


Blows to the head can create a coup injury. The impact happens in one part of the skull and the coup directly below the impact site.


A contrecoup results from the head getting hit, but the brain getting injured on the opposite side. Due to its location, contrecoup may get misdiagnosed.


A severe impact that affects more than one side of the brain is a coup-contrecoup. One might find one injured area and miss the other.

Children and Concussions

Children run and play and fall a lot. Worse, children are incapable of describing what’s happening to their bodies or how they feel.

When it comes to children, we must watch them for head injuries.

If a child hits their head, keep them close as well as monitor behavior for 24 hours. Do not give them any medication, including aspirin (which may promote bleeding). Get the advice of a pediatrician. Look for any of the symptoms listed above.

Treatment of a Concussion

While symptoms seem obvious, a concussion can be hard to determine. You can’t see a concussion. Signs may also not be immediate. Symptoms can linger or last seconds. They may show days or weeks after the incident.

It’s important to consult with a doctor after a head injury. They may want to examine you or prescribe temporary treatment. They may tell you to wait and see if symptoms go away.

Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab urges anyone with a head injury to get treatment early. A phone call may suffice if someone can give the physician a thorough understanding of what the patient’s experiencing. Treatment may start with a few days of rest. The doctor might also ask you to come in for an examination.

If you’d like to know more about these conditions and the best ways to treat them, please contact Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab at 570-208-2787.