Concussion: Why Nurses Need to Understand This Hidden Injury

Ann Worley


Pediatr Nurs. 2019;45(5):235-243. 

In This Article

Concussion Defined

A concussion is defined as a "complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by traumatic biomechanical forces secondary to direct or indirect forces to the head" (Gioia et al., 2008, p. 230). In other words, a concussion is a disruption of brain function and metabolism caused by a blow to the head or sudden jolt to the body that shakes the brain violently against the walls of the skull, often resulting in a transient loss of neurological function.

Unlike severe TBI, brain disturbance in an mTBI is related more to dysfunction of brain cell metabolism rather than a structural injury. This inflammatory 'neurometabolic cascade' can be manifested in clinical concussion symptoms, increased vulnerability to repeat injury, and cognitive dysfunction (Giza & Hovda, 2014).