A blow to the head can result in a traumatic brain injury. There are many different kinds of TBI, including contusions and concussions. Because the names sound similar, people may confuse the two.
However, though the mechanism of injury may be the same or similar, they are different injuries. Each has its own effect on the brain, and treatment options vary for each. Knowing the difference between a contusion and a concussion helping in understanding the possible risks for head injuries.
A contusion is a general name for a bruise. However, in the context of an intracranial injury, it means something more specific. A brain contusion is a type of intracranial hematoma. Basically, when bruising of the brain occurs, it can cause the brain to swell and blood to collect within it. Intracranial hematomas, including brain contusions, almost always require surgery to remove the excess blood.
Concussions are the most common type of traumatic brain injury. They are usually not life-threatening. However, the cumulative effects of multiple concussions over time can cause chronic brain damage.
Initial symptoms of a concussion include confusion and loss of consciousness. These may occur immediately after the injury or there may be a delay in the symptoms. Most people recover fully from a concussion, but it can take time, years in some instances.
There are two types of concussion injuries. A coup injury occurs at the point of impact. A contrecoup injury occurs in another part of the brain than where the trauma took place. Researchers are not in agreement as to why contrecoup injuries occur. The most popular theory is that the force of impact causes the brain to move within the skull and strike the other side.
Surgery is usually not useful in treating a concussion. Symptoms usually improve with rest. Patients should take care to avoid any activities that could lead to further brain injuries while the concussion heals.