The most common type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is called a concussion - and there are several different types of concussions. While it is traumatic in the medical sense, the severity of a concussion can vary from one case to another. As every concussion is different, a grading system is used to delineate the types of concussions incurred. Although they are not generally life-threatening, the effects of concussions can be severe. For this reason, we take every type of brain injury seriously. The purpose of our advanced concussion clinic in Ottawa is to provide you with the most accurate diagnosis and the treatment to put you on your way to recovery.
Concussions are caused by an impact to the head, which results in the brain moving rapidly back and forth. This bouncing around can lead to chemical changes in the brain and can sometimes damage brain cells. The brain is made of soft tissue. The skull acts like a protective shield, but when you have a blow or bump to your head, the impact can affect your brain. In some cases, it literally moves around the head. Concussions can cause bruising, injury to the nerves and damage to the blood vessels. As a result, your brain won’t be functioning as it should. If you have had a concussion, you might experience disturbed vision, loss of equilibrium, or a period of unconsciousness. Some things can increase your risk of a concussion, such as lack of safety gear when playing contact sports or tackling dangerous jobs, falls (especially on children and older adults), motor accidents or pre-existing brain injuries. Some things that can increase the likelihood of a concussion include:
Playing contact sports
Falls (especially in children and elderly adults)
Lack of adequate safety gear in contact sports
Motor vehicle accidents
Being hit or stuck with an object in the head
A previous concussion
These are the essentials of concussions. Which type of concussion you have will be determined by concussion symptoms and severity.
3 Types of Concussions
GRADE 1, MILD CONCUSSION
This grade of concussion is considered the mildest form. It is characterized by symptoms that typically last for less than 15 minutes and do not involve any loss of consciousness. However, individuals may experience various symptoms such as:
Sensitivity to light or noise
While the symptoms may be relatively short-lived, it is important not to underestimate the impact of a mild concussion. Even seemingly minor head injuries can disrupt brain function and require proper management to promote recovery and prevent potential complications.
GRADE 2, MODERATE CONCUSSION
A moderate concussion is characterized by symptoms that persist for longer than 15 minutes, but there is still no loss of consciousness. The duration of symptoms, combined with their intensity, distinguishes a moderate concussion from a mild one. Individuals experiencing a moderate concussion may exhibit symptoms such as:
Nausea or vomiting
Problems with balance or coordination
These symptoms can significantly impact daily activities and cognitive function, requiring medical evaluation and appropriate treatment. It is important to closely monitor individuals with moderate concussions and ensure they receive adequate rest and follow-up care to aid their recovery.
GRADE 3, SEVERE CONCUSSION
The most severe form of concussion is grade 3, which involves a loss of consciousness. In grade 3 concussions, the person may experience a brief loss of consciousness either immediately after the injury or shortly afterward. Loss of consciousness can range from a few seconds to several minutes. Other symptoms associated with severe concussions may include:
Confusion or disorientation
Unequal pupil size
Difficulty waking up
Due to the potential for more significant complications and longer recovery periods, grade 3 concussions require immediate medical attention. Prompt evaluation, diagnostic imaging, and specialized care are often necessary to ensure the individual's safety and optimize their recovery.
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Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion & Treatment in Ottawa
You should go to the nearest emergency room, clinic or medical assistance if you recognize one or more of the following signs after a blow, bump or jolt to the head of body:
Drowsiness or inability to wake up
One pupil larger than the other
Slurred speech or decreased coordination
Persistent and intense headache
Repeated vomiting or nausea
Loss of consciousness
Concussions can be difficult to diagnose, since some symptoms may not appear for days or weeks after the incident. If you are unsure of the severity of your brain injury, seek medical attention. A doctor will assess your situation and decide whether you require treatment.
Types of Concussion Symptoms
Vestibular Concussion Symptoms
This category relates to difficulties with balance, spatial awareness, and understanding one's body in space and motion. Individuals with vestibular symptoms may experience dizziness, unsteadiness, problems with coordination, and a sense of being off-balance. Simple movements like walking or turning the head may feel challenging, and certain environments, such as crowded or visually stimulating places, may exacerbate these symptoms. Vestibular symptoms can significantly impact daily activities and may require specialized evaluation and treatment from healthcare professionals such as physical therapists or vestibular rehabilitation specialists.
Ocular Concussion Symptoms
Ocular symptoms are associated with difficulties in coordinating eye movements and visual disturbances. Following a concussion, individuals may experience problems with focusing, tracking moving objects, or maintaining visual attention. They may also have blurred vision, sensitivity to light (photophobia), or trouble with depth perception. Ocular symptoms can affect various visual tasks, including reading, using screens, and driving. Assessment by an optometrist or ophthalmologist with expertise in concussion management can help diagnose and address these visual impairments.
Cognitive Concussion Symptoms
This category encompasses challenges with mental processes, particularly with prolonged or complex mental tasks. Individuals may experience difficulties with concentration, memory, attention, and problem-solving. They may find it challenging to multitask or engage in activities that require sustained mental effort. Cognitive symptoms can affect work, school, and daily life responsibilities. Rehabilitation strategies, such as cognitive therapy or guided exercises, can help individuals manage and improve cognitive function during the recovery process.
Cervical Concussion Symptoms
Cervical symptoms refer to issues related to the neck and spine. Concussions can sometimes cause problems with the cervical spine due to the forceful impact that can result in muscle strains or ligament sprains. Individuals may experience neck pain, stiffness, reduced range of motion, or increased sensitivity to pressure or stress on the neck. Physical therapy or other forms of therapeutic intervention focusing on the neck and spine can be beneficial in managing cervical symptoms and facilitating recovery.
Concussion Symptoms Related to Mood
Mood-related symptoms can include difficulties with social interactions, negative thoughts, and feelings of depression or anxiety. Following a concussion, individuals may experience changes in mood, irritability, increased emotional sensitivity, or alterations in behavior. They may find it challenging to regulate their emotions or engage in social activities. It is important to address mood symptoms as they can significantly impact an individual's well-being and overall recovery. Mental health support, such as counseling or therapy, can play a vital role in managing mood symptoms and promoting emotional healing.
It's essential to recognize that individuals may experience symptoms from one or multiple categories, and the severity and duration can vary. Seeking appropriate medical care and consulting with healthcare professionals experienced in concussion management can help guide the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of these symptoms, ensuring the best possible recovery outcomes.
Book Your Concussion Treatment Today!
At our concussion clinic in Ottawa we provide a revolutionary, research-based approach to neurological rehabilitation. We are experts in brain health in Ottawa, and regardless of the types of concussions that you've experienced, we can treat you. If you need help making sense of your symptoms before your appointment at our clinic, try out our online concussion testing tool! Contact us today to book your first appointment at the Broadview advanced concussion clinic in Ottawa.