Neuroscience

Hit your head, lose your sense of smell

It's long been known that people who suffer a major concussion can lose their sense of smell temporarily and also develop affective problems, such as anxiety and depression. Now scientists have found that's true even for ...

Medical research

Head and neck positioning affects concussion risk

If you're about to run headfirst into something, your reflex might be to tense your neck and stabilize your noggin. But according to new research from Stanford University that may not be the best way to stave off a concussion. ...

Neuroscience

Dementia risk doubles following concussion, study shows

Dementia should join the expanding list of possible complications following concussion, even if the patient did not lose consciousness, say researchers from UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences and the San Francisco Veterans ...

Neuroscience

Three ways neuroscience can advance the concussion debate

While concussion awareness has improved over the past decade, understanding the nuances of these sports injuries, their severity, symptoms, and treatment, is still a work in progress. In the June 21 issue of Neuron, UCLA ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Scientists discover concussion biomarker

The secret to reliably diagnosing concussions lies in the brain's ability to process sound, according to a new study by researchers from Northwestern University's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.

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Concussion

Concussion, from the Latin concutere ("to shake violently") or the Latin concussus ("action of striking together"), is the most common type of traumatic brain injury. The terms mild brain injury, mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), mild head injury (MHI), and minor head trauma and concussion may be used interchangeably, although the latter is often treated as a narrower category. The term 'concussion' has been used for centuries and is still commonly used in sports medicine, while 'MTBI' is a technical term used more commonly nowadays in general medical contexts. Frequently defined as a head injury with a transient loss of brain function, concussion can cause a variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms.

Treatment of concussion involves monitoring and rest. Symptoms usually go away entirely within three weeks, though they may persist, or complications may occur. Repeated concussions can cause cumulative brain damage such as dementia pugilistica or severe complications such as second-impact syndrome.

Due to factors such as widely varying definitions and possible underreporting of concussion, the rate at which it occurs annually is not known; however it may be more than 6 per 1,000 people. Common causes include sports injuries, bicycle accidents, car accidents, and falls; the latter two are the most frequent causes among adults. Concussion may be caused by a blow to the head, or by acceleration forces without a direct impact. The forces involved disrupt cellular processes in the brain for days or weeks.

It is not known whether the concussed brain is structurally damaged the way it is in other types of brain injury (albeit to a lesser extent) or whether concussion mainly entails a loss of function with physiological but not structural changes. Cellular damage has reportedly been found in concussed brains, but it may have been due to artifacts from the studies. A debate about whether structural damage exists in concussion has raged for centuries and is ongoing.

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