What is a Concussion?

Definition of a Concussion

A concussion is a common head injury, also known as a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI). It is an injury that results from a direct or indirect blow to the head, face or jaw causing an alteration of brain function which can become evident through a variety of related symptoms.

The damage to the brain during a concussion is caused by a sudden shifting of the brain inside the skull. This shifting can cause the brain to knock against the hard bone of the skull, causing bruising to your brain and damaging brain cells.

A blow to the head can also cause a rotational injury to the brain which can cause shearing of the brain nervous fibres which can alter brain function.

What to look for?

What to do?

If you believe you may have suffered a concussion you need to tell someone! While you may think you are ok, someone else will be able to give you an unbiased opinion of your state of mind.

Online tests for concussions can serve as a starting point to determining the proper course of action, but to gain accurate information/diagnosis you must visit a doctor or an individual trained in assessment and management of concussions. The doctor will be able to tell you the severity of your injury, as well as proper steps to follow in order to allow your brain time to heal.

In general, a concussion requires a lot of rest to decrease the workload on your brain. Activities such as driving, watching movies, playing video games, and any physical activity all increase brain activity and blood flow which can affect the speed of recovery.

Signs and Symptoms Concusisions

What happens to the brain in a Concussion?

A direct or indirect blow to the head, face or jaw can cause the brain to accelerate, and then rapidly decelerate within the skull. This acceleration/deceleration motion can induce mechanical changes to the nerve fibers within the brain, and in turn, alter several important metabolic pathways. Though injury is apparent given the spectrum of symptoms experienced by a concussed athlete, no structural damage is caused to the brain itself. That is, unlike with other sports injuries (like a fractured wrist or a dislocated shoulder) nothing is visibly “wrong” or abnormal on standard imaging studies such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) or medical resonance imaging (MRI). This “invisibility” is part of the reason why concussive injuries have historically been largely overlooked and mismanaged by the medical system. We understand now that just because we can’t see the injury, doesn’t mean an injury hasn’t been sustained.

A concussion, in simple terms, changes the way the brain functions. In most cases, this change is temporary and reversible. Sometimes, however, changes in physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral functions are long lasting and devastating. Researchers are only now beginning to understand the impact this injury has on the brain and the way it works.

Current evidence suggests that the rapid stretch of nerve fibers within the brain during a concussive trauma results in the release of various neurotransmitters (signaling molecules within the brain), which trigger the initiation of a complex neurochemical and neurometabolic pathway. Ultimately, the brain starts to consume energy more quickly than it can replenish it, creating a generalized depression in brain metabolism. These changes take place within minutes of the injury and can last for hours or days before normalization occurs. This metabolic imbalance, along with other impaired physiological processes, is thought to contribute to the physical, cognitive, behavioral and emotional signs/symptoms typically seen in a concussed individual.

Additionally, when the brain is in this state of metabolic dysfunction, it is believed to be more vulnerable to subsequent trauma. That is, a relatively minor second blow to the head may produce more severe and irreversible changes in brain function. The physiologically altered brain is essentially weakened and less able to withstand or recover from a subsequent concussion. In this way, concussive injuries are thought to be cumulative, with progressively less force required to induce trauma to the brain each time (when occurring in close temporal relation). What’s more, the symptoms experienced may be completely disproportionate to the mechanism of injury. What would have been two “mild” head injuries summate to form a more severe traumatic brain injury with longer-lasting impairment.


We are pleased to provide your hockey organization, team and player our 3-part injury prevention educational system. This injury prevention education system will help you learn about concussions and prevention.

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Baseline Testing

A baseline test is a test that is taken before any concussion, activity or treatment have occurred. Baseline testing data is valuable in determining the athletes’ pre-injury (normal) level of cognitive functioning.

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Our goal is to raise funds, increase awareness and assist in prevention and cure of neurotrauma injuries. Shoot for a Cure is an international campaign uniting neurotrauma communities around a common cause.

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