Physiology of a Concussion

By General Info

Concussion Physiology

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is caused by something hitting the head; or another injury that shakes the brain inside the skull. The brain has a layer of spinal fluid around it to aid with movement and the skull houses the brain and is also used for protection. At times, this is not enough protection for the brain when it is shaken or moved violently, causing it to hit the hard skull. The brain then bounces off one side of the skull and impacts the opposite side.

With this action, the brain is impacted on two different sides causing further damage. The force of the brain hitting the skull produces contusions (bruises) in the brain. Nerve cells inside the head are damaged and no longer able to send signals to other regions of the brain or throughout the body. The body uses cerebral blood flow found in the spinal column to transport nutrients and energy to the brain. A concussion slows cerebral blood flow, making it difficult for the brain to repair injured areas and return to a stable state without sufficient blood supply. These changes temporarily alter the autonomic nervous system and circadian rhythm (sleep cycle).

Concussion Symptoms

Once a concussion occurs, the person may experience a wide range of symptoms.  They are classified into 4 categories: physical, cognitive, emotional and sleep-related. Other symptoms may include the following:

  • Headaches and problems with concentration.
  • Decreased balance and coordination.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Fatigue.
  • Sensitivity to light.
  • Hindered sleeping patterns.
  • Loss of memory.

JOI Fracture and Injury Care

JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP Fracture care. Make an appointment by calling (904)JOI-2000. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care.

If you enjoyed this article about the physiology of a concussion, you can read more in our medical library.

Concussion Graphic

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