Concussions – Diagnosis

When the brain is forced against the skull, the common term used by most is “concussion” which is a form of mild traumatic brain injury.  Concussions can occur even if a person does not lose consciousness.  In more severe trauma, injuries may also  include loss of consciousness, diffuse axonal injuries, edema, swelling, and lacerations.

Concussions are graded as follows: 1. transient confusion; no loss of consciousness and symptoms clear within 15 minutes typically; 2. transient confusion, no loss of consciousness, altered mental status or symptoms typically last longer than 15 minutes; 3. Loss of consciousness, either short or long.

Medical professionals also rely on the “Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)” in making a diagnosis of MTBI.  The GCS is a numerical ranking system from 3-15.  The scale measures three criteria including whether a person’s eyes are open, best verbal response, and best motor response.  The lower the score, generally, the more severe the injury to the brain.  In a very severe injury, a person may never open her eyes, may not respond verbally and may exhibit little or no motor response.

You may have seen trainers or doctors asking questions of football players after they suffered an on the field injury.  Most likely they are measuring the player’s level of awareness to check for the possibility of concussion or brain injury.

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