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What causes a concussion?

Most concussions are caused by motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries. In motor vehicle accidents, concussion can occur without an actual blow to the head. Instead, concussion occurs because the skull suddenly decelerates or stops, which causes the brain to be jarred against the skull. Contact sports, especially football, hockey, and boxing, are among

those most likely to lead to concussion. Other significant causes include falls, collisions, or blows due to bicycling, horseback riding, skiing, and soccer.

The risk of concussion from football is extremely high, especially at the high school level. Studies show that approximately one in five players suffer concussion or more serious brain injury during their brief high-school careers. The rate at the collegiate level is approximately one in 20. Rates for hockey players are not known as certainly, but are believed to be similar.

Concussion and lasting brain damage is an especially significant risk for boxers, since the goal of the sport is, in fact, to deliver a concussion to the opponent. For this reason, the American Academy of Neurology has called for a ban on boxing. Repeated concussions over months or years can cause cumulative head injury. The cumulative brain injuries suffered by most boxers can lead to permanent brain damage. Multiple blows to the head can cause "punch-drunk" syndrome or dementia pugilistica, as evidenced by Muhammed Ali, whose parkinsonism is a result of his career in the ring. Young children are likely to suffer concussions from falls or collisions on the playground or around the home. Child abuse is, unfortunately, another common cause of concussion.

More information on concussion

What is a concussion? - Concussion is a trauma-induced change in mental status, with confusion and amnesia, and with or without a brief loss of consciousness.
What causes a concussion? - Most concussions are caused by motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries. Contact sports are among those most likely to lead to concussion.
What're the symptoms of a concussion? - The symptoms of a concussion include severe headache, dizziness, vomiting, increased size of one pupil or sudden weakness in an arm or leg.
How is a concussion diagnosed? - The duration of unconsciousness and degree of confusion are very important indicators of the severity of the injury and help guide the diagnostic process and treatment decisions.
What's the treatment for a concussion? - A grade 1 concussion can usually be treated with rest and continued observation alone. A person with a grade 2 concussion must discontinue sports activity for the day.
How to prevent concussion? - Many cases of concussion can be prevented by using appropriate protective equipment. Helmets should also be worn when bicycling, skiing, or horseback riding.
What's the post-concussion syndrome? - Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a common but controversial disorder that presents with variety of symptoms including headache, dizziness, fatigue, and personality changes.
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