Neuroplasticity and Concussions

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The notion of brain plasticity explains the brain's ability to reorganize, and delegate tasks to new areas of the brain after trauma to the head. The most common form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is concussion. Concussion comes from the Latin concutere - to shake violently and concussus - the act of striking together, and is caused by a blow to the head or by acceleration forces without direct impact. Although concussion is classified as mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) the long-term consequences of concussion, especially multiple incidences, are anything but mild. Although they are the most common TBI, concussions are highly misunderstood. Cognitive and emotional symptoms are common in concussion cases, like most TBIs. However, because concussions can happen even through the protection of a helmet or within the safety of a vehicle, there are often few physical symptoms. For these reasons, concussions often go undiagnosed. According to an article in Maclean’s Magazine, the current consensus among experts is that 80 percent of individuals that suffer from concussions appear to be symptom free within 10 days (Gulli, 2011). The scary part about these MTBIs is that there is no certainty weather changes persist in the brain after physical symptoms have subsided. Moreover, there is uncertainty as to what exactly is happening in the 20 percent that don’t recover quickly. Take Sidney Crosby, one of hockey's most promising athletes, as an example. He made his return to the ice just this past Monday after taking almost a year off after suffering a MTBI. His concussion was the result of two consecutive hard hits in the beginning of the New Year 2011. His long time away, says athletic therapist at the University of Windsor Dave Stellar, goes to show that there is no set timeline when it comes to recovering from concussions – for anyone (2011).

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