The Impact Of Concussion

Concussion is starting to be such a prevalent topic in our society. It seems as though we should be able to create better helmets and more pads to protect people from head injury. However, the helmets we have are not adequate to protect us and here is why:

Concussion:

When a hit to the head takes place, our brain moves around in the skull bouncing back and forth. This blow to the brain causes ionic flux and an excessive release of glutamate (the excitatory neurotransmitter in our brain). This causes an intense excitation of the brain. As the membranes attempt to restore their potentials, the ATPase pumps in the neuron cell membrane are working overtime. This causes a stress on the mitochondria of the cell as it rapidly attempts to break down glucose to use for energy. This causes hypoglycemia and a surplus of ADP. Also, the brain is unable to adequately send action potentials as the membrane potential is not established. Therefore, this whole process can be termed as “spreading depression” which moves through the brain at a rate of 2-5mm/min. This seems very slow, however, it can have detrimental impacts on the brain. Often, this spreading depression is associated with migraines rather than concussion. It is known to cause the “aura” that people see during a migraine. This is logical that these two things would be related as both carry the symptoms of headache, nausea and vomiting.

Spreading depression in the brain. from: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(09)70090-0/fulltext

Implications of Impact:

Although, this sounds as if it would have very negative effects in the brain, having this happen only one or two times has not been shown to have last impact. However, if another concussion happens within the time of recovery (which can be upto 1-2 weeks or even longer) there can be many negative side effects in the brain and can even cause death, called second impact syndrome. However, even more dangerous can be small impacts to the brain over time that aren’t necessarily labeled as a concussion. These are the repeated hits that seem to cause CTE in football players, hockey players and boxers. Therefore, the lasting impacts of concussion and even just repeated small hits to the head can have detrimental effects on a person’s life. It is important for us to have an understanding of the effects of concussions and understand that even though one might feel better, there could be lasting impacts in the brain.

For more information about the impacts of concussion on the brain read:

https://moodle.cord.edu/pluginfile.php/625289/mod_resource/content/3/2014%20The_New_Neurometabolic_Cascade_of_Concussion.3.pdf

Feature image from:

Traumatic Brain Injury: What You Need to Know