WHAT CAUSES BRAIN INJURY: Any kind of blow to the head can cause trauma and concussion. A blood vessel could tear under the skull, causing blood to accumulate in that area, which will gradually displace the brain -- a life-threatening situation if not treated promptly. Other trauma can result from a car accident or when a person is violently shaken, such as while riding a roller coaster. As the head whips sharply back and forth, the brain can pull away from one side of the skull and smash into the other side with sufficient force to rupture tiny blood vessels. The trickling blood accumulates in the small space between the brain and the skull, and the resulting pressure can lead to permanent brain damage or death if left untreated.
SYMPTOMS OF CONCUSSION: More than 750,000 mild traumatic brain injuries occur each year in the U.S., many during sporting events. If the injury is misdiagnosed, and the player goes back on the field, a second impact injury shortly after the first can lead to permanent brain damage or possibly death. But in the heat of a sports competition, such injuries can be missed. Symptoms include temporary unconsciousness, headache and sometimes a loss of memory surrounding the time of the injury. Vomiting and nausea are also common reactions.
The American Physical Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.