Concussion and Contusion: Understanding the difference
There is often confusion between a concussion and a contusion which this article will try to unravel and hopefully make clear.
Concussion and contusion are brain injuries with varying degrees of severity
The main difference between a concussion and contusion is a contusion is localized and macroscopic, whilst a concussion is wise-spread and microscopic.
Contusions and concussions are both injuries to the brain with contusion being generally regarded as more serious than a concussion. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury which can be regarded as a simple disturbance in brain function with no resulting brain damage. There is no actual interference within the structure of the brain and the main symptoms are headaches and dizziness.
On th eother hand a contusion is actually a deep bruising to the brain tissue which can cause haemorrhaging, the evidence of which can be found in the spinal fluid. In both cases of a concussion and a contusion, there is a risk that the injured person could lapse into unconsciousness, however in the case of a contusion there are other accompanying symptoms such as blurred vision, disorientation, unsteadiness whilst walking, vomiting and slurred speech, which can ultimately develop into a coma.
After a concussion the person is usually nursed in bed and monitored for the possible development of additional symptoms, however they should be symptom free within a maximum time period of three weeks. The incidents and cases of concussion are generally under reported, therefore there are no accurate records concerning the frequency of concussions, although it is believed that there are approximately 6 in every thousand cases of concussion annually.
One common pattern of a contusion is a ‘coup-contracoup’ which occur when a moving head stops abruptly and the brain bash against the inner surface of the skull causing it to bruise. Severe injury also occurs in the ‘coup’ this is when the brain bounces back bashing the opposite side of the brain against the skull. In cases of concussion, there are no outward physical signs, apart from the patient complaining of dizziness and headaches. In cases of contusion there is often oedema around the sockets of the eye, brought about be intracranial pressure and the squeezing of brain tissue, with the worst swelling occurring between four to six days after the injury. Cerebral swelling is a serious condition and may be life threatening, therefore it needs immediate medical intervention.
Computed Tamography (CT) and Magnet Resonance Imaging scans (MRI) are the most efficient ways to ascertain the extent of the damage, although the CT scan is the Physician's preferred diagnostic tool.
Recovery from a concussion takes a few days or perhaps a few weeks. Whereas, a contusion is a permanent injury and the outcome ultimately depends on the site and extent of the damage. With a certain amount of luck, a contusion although slow to heal, will heal in time, however it often leaves residue damage which can be frustrating for the victim who may have to go through the process of re-learn numerous skills lost as a result .