A concussion occurs when a person is hit on the head or when the head is shaken in a violent manner. This can happen if a person is in a car wreck, plays contact sport, falls or is involved in a workplace accident. Victims of abuse, including those with shaken baby syndrome, might suffer from a concussion.
While it is unlikely that a single concussion is going to have lifelong impacts on you, repetitive concussions can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. This is a brain condition that can’t be diagnosed during a person’s life, but it is evident during a postmortem examination of the brain.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is the result of a hit to the head. If you have experienced any symptoms after hitting your head, you suffered a concussion. Many different symptoms can signal this. It is possible to have one symptom and not another.
- Seeing stars
- Sensitivity to noise or light
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty remembering things
- Nausea or vomiting
- Changes in your sleep
- Double vision
- Blurry vision
- Trouble with balance
While the brain is usually able to recover from a mild concussion, repetitive ones can have a cumulative effect on the brain. This contributes to CTE. However, researchers do believe that other factors like genetics, might also have a part in whether a person has CTE or not.
What is CTE?
In the past, boxers were often referred to as being punch drunk. This is now known to have likely been CTE. This is a degenerative condition that is the result of tau, an abnormal protein that is produced when the brain suffers a trauma. The symptoms of CTE are rather troublesome:
- Memory loss
- Progressive dementia
- Impaired judgement
- Trouble with impulse control
- Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
People who have a concussion or another traumatic brain injury aren’t going to experiencing the symptoms of CTE right away. It can take years or even decades for these to show up.
When there are signs similar to CTE that occur right away or in the weeks following the concussion, the person has post-concussion syndrome. Unlike CTE, this syndrome will likely resolve over time but signal that the person may suffer from CTE later in life.