What is a concussion?
A concussion is officially defined as:
A complex pathophysiologic process affecting the brain, induced by traumatic biomechanical forces secondary to direct or indirect forces to the head.
To put it simply:
1. There is trauma that causes ‘shaking’ of the brain
2. If the ‘shaking’ is hard enough, there will be subsequent neurological dysfunction.
To put it more technically for those who have an interest:
The initial impulse causes a shear strain on the brain’s nerve cell membranes and axons stimulating release of excitatory neurotransmitters leading to indiscriminate efflux of potassium ions (K+) through previously regulated ion channels. The brain tries to clean up this aberration by using up a lot of energy, derived from glucose. Other neurotransmitters (NMDA) cause calcium ions (Ca2+) to accumulate in the cells’ mitochondria – organelles that are important for converting glucose and oxygen into energy – rendering them dysfunctional. The brain starts using glucose inefficiently and in turn, producing less ATP, a molecule that is used in expending energy. In this ionic milieu and energy crisis, lactate ions are produced causing other metabolic abnormalities and contributing to the brain’s edema. Other abnormalities that can result are decreased blood flow in the brain and injury to the axons of the nerve cells. These changes in the brain’s metabolism express themselves as the multitude of symptoms that we will touch upon in this informational booklet.
Click here to see some interesting scientific images.