Concussion - Causes

Motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries are the major causes of concussion. In motor vehicle accidents, concussion can occur without an actual blow to the head. Instead, concussion occurs when the vehicle starts or stops suddenly. In such a case, the brain is pushed strongly against the skull. Contact sports, especially football, hockey, and boxing, are leading causes of concussion. Other significant causes are falls, collisions, or injuries due to bicycling, horseback riding, skiing, and soccer.

The risk of concussion from football is extremely high, especially at the high school level. Research shows that about 1 in 5 high school football players suffer concussion or more serious brain injury at some point during their high school football career. The comparable rate at the college level is 1 in 20.

Concussion and lasting brain damage is also very common among boxers. After all, the goal of this sport is to knock out an opponent, that is, to give him or her a concussion. For this reason, the American Academy of Neurology (a group of doctors who specialize in problems of the nervous system) has called for a ban on boxing.

Loss of memory sometimes caused by a brain injury, such as concussion.
Parkinson's disease:
A disorder of the nervous system that includes shaking, muscular weakness, stiffness, and problems with walking.

Repeated concussions over many months or years can eventually cause more serious brain injury. For example, boxers can develop a form of permanent brain damage called "punch drunk" syndrome or dementia pugilistica (pronounced dih-MEN-sha pyoo-juh-LIS-tuh-kuh). Perhaps the best known example is the great boxer Muhammad Ali. Ali eventually developed Parkinson's disease (see Parkinson' disease entry), believed to be caused by head injuries sustained while he was active as a boxer.

Young children are likely to suffer concussions from falls or bumps on the playground or at home. Child abuse is another common cause of concussion.

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