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What can you do if you have a concussion

What can happen?

A head injury can occur as a result of a direct injury after the head hits something with force. The brain is shaken and there is an impact on the cranial bones. This can result in injuries in other places within the brain as well as the actual area where the impact occurred. There may be injuries to the nerve fibres which have stretched after a forceful acceleration and deceleration and sometimes after a twisting. It is clear that there is a lot happening in the brain. An inflammation can occur as a result of this trauma to the brain tissue, and also changes in brain metabolism and disturbances to the signaling between neurons.

What can you do?

  • Always seek emergency medical care.
  • If you have a head injury, you must take things slowly. The brain needs a period of rest.
  • You should gradually resume daily activities. Do not take on more than you feel comfortable with. If you have been over-doing things, you will become tired more easily.
  • If your problems persist after four weeks, you should seek medical treatment. It is essential that an investigation is carried out by both a doctor and a neuropsychologist who will be able to evaluate various functions as well as finding a suitable treatment. You will also need help with suggesting ways to make things easier. It is important to use energy resources sensibly and economically and various tips and tricks can be used to do this. However, it is often difficult for the patient himself/herself to come up with these tricks and tips.

What can you expect?

After a concussion, patients will often experience the following symptoms: headache, dizziness, nausea and sickness, and high levels of fatigue. On the whole, these symptoms subside gradually within a few days or weeks. Most patients recover and will be able to resume daily life.

Some patients may experience persistent problems with the following symptoms over a longer period: these include, above all, mental fatigue, concentration difficulties, sensitivity to light and noise, headache and dizziness. Fatigue levels will vary and there will often be an increase in fatigue levels during the course of the day. It will also take longer than usual for these patients to regain their mental energy.

Activities which are often relaxing for us can be very demanding for a person whose brain is out of balance. Activities such as watching TV, reading a book or holding a conversation can be very tiring. The patient needs to register every detail in order to keep up with everything that is happening around them. After a head injury, this can have a tiring effect on the brain.

What can you do to overcome fatigue?

  • You can overcome fatigue by ensuring that you get regular rest and by maintaining shorter periods of activity. Adequate breaks should be taken between activities, before you become too tired.
  • It is important to gradually resume the every-day routine with your studies and work. It is essential that you do not over-exert yourself beyond your capabilities.
  • There are high expectations of you, both the expectations you place on yourself and also those of the people around you. There is often a lack of understanding of illnesses that cannot be seen. Fatigue can therefore be misinterpreted as laziness and lack of interest. The problem often lies in the fact that the patient is very eager, often too eager, and thus activity levels are too high.
  • It is not possible to train the brain in order to improve mental stamina and the problem can therefore become worse if you do too much.
  • It is important to be careful, to avoid having another concussion. Do not start to exercise again until you have fully recovered.

This is the story of Anna, a 38-year old woman who was in a bicycle accident and had a concussion

Anna describes her symptoms when she was about to start work again.

- I struggled for three weeks.
- I often sat on the floor in my study, crying.
- I was extremely tired and had a severe headache. I could see the pile of paperwork on my desk grow.
- I could not keep up.
- I forgot important meetings and made embarrassing mistakes.
- I was not able to talk to people. I felt uncomfortable. I only managed to read short newspaper articles and I stopped reading books.
My brain was not working!

Five years later, I met a doctor who referred me to a neuropsychologist. This was a turning-point for me. I was subjected to lots of tests which actually helped me to understand more about my problems. I was given advice and information about my problems with mental fatigue, and was shown ways in which I could work around my symptoms and economize with my mental energy levels. I felt a sense of relief and I was pleased. I felt less pleased that it was going to take such a long time. The information I received plus the fact that I was learning how to economize with my mental energy levels, enabled me to gradually manage to do more and more.


Page Manager: Birgitta Johansson|Last update: 9/7/2011

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