What is a Concussion?

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If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, please call the Cottage Concussion Clinic at 805-879-4240

A concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), is caused by a direct or indirect blow to the head or body that causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth disrupting brain function. There may not be any visible signs of a brain injury nor do you have to lose consciousness to have a concussion.

This injury may lead to symptoms, cognitive impairment, and vulnerability of the brain. Among children concussions can occur in any sport, but also happen on the playground, while bike riding, skateboarding or from any trauma including falls, motor vehicle accidents or abuse. All concussions should be considered serious events.

Returning to physical activity too soon could put a child at risk for a second concussion. A repeat concussion that occurs before their brain has fully recovered from a first can make symptoms worsen and last longer. In rare cases, a second concussion sustained during recovery can cause the brain to undergo swelling known as Second Impact Syndrome (SIS). Approximately half of SIS patients die from their injuries, and the survivors often suffer from permanent brain damage experiencing life-long disability.

What Should You Do If You Suspect You or Someone Has a Concussion?

  • Immediate removal from physical activity and seek medical attention from a licensed health care professional experienced in the management of concussions
  • Do not return to any physical activity without medical clearance. This includes any activity in which contact and collision may occur
  • After a concussion, returning to school and physical activity is a gradual process that should be carefully managed by a health care professional
  • Do not take medications unless approved by your health care provider. Especially avoid aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as naproxen (Aleve) and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Do not drive
  • Do not drink alcohol or take drugs
  • No roller coasters

Testing and Diagnosis

There is no single test used to diagnose a concussion. The health care provider makes a concussion diagnosis based on the results of a detailed history and comprehensive physical examination including a neurologic exam, vestibular ocular motor screening, balance examination and cognitive function.

Imaging studies with MRI and CT scans should not be performed routinely in the diagnosis of concussions. While this imaging is useful in identifying structural defects, an injury from concussion often presents normally and CT scans expose individuals to unnecessary radiation.

Management and Treatment

Timely recognition is key to mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or concussion recovery. However, every concussion is unique and affects people in different ways. Every treatment plan needs to be individualized around their symptoms and medical history to improve health outcomes.

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Cottage Concussion Clinic Resources

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Download and print Cottage Concussion Clinic resources below.

Signs & Symptoms

What You Need to Know

Safe Kids Santa Barbara County

Safe Kids Santa Barbara County

Cottage Health is proud to be a coalition of Safe Kids World Wide. Our local coalition, known as Safe Kids Santa Barbara County, shares the mission of keeping ALL children safe from preventable injuries.

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