Concussion occurs when a blow to the head or a hit to the body causes the brain to rattle, bounce, or twist in the skull, temporarily interrupting normal brain function. This dysfunction is caused by brain cells experiencing an energy crisis.
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What Happens in the Brain During a Concussion?
During a concussive injury, potassium ions (K+) within the brain cells exit the neurons, while calcium ions (Ca) rush into the cells. When calcium enters, the blood vessels constrict, resulting in a decreased blood supply to the brain. This diminished cerebral blood flow increases the demand for energy, causing an energy crisis.
The nerve cell is extremely vulnerable in this condition. Further injury or stress may cause cell death or serious cell damage. Cell death or damage can lead to cognitive impairment. That’s why it is important to take all concussions seriously and seek proper medical attention right away.
To find out more about the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program or to make an appointment with one of our experts, visit our website or call 412-432-3681.
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About Sports Medicine
Sports and physical activity bring with them a potential for injury. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury – or improve athletic performance – UPMC Sports Medicine and the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program can help. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our experts partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and about 100 other high school, college, and regional teams and events throughout Pennsylvania – working daily to build better athletes.