Concussion: Neuron and David Hovda Essay

Submitted By Garrisonvaughn
Words: 421
Pages: 2

In the immediate aftermath of a concussion, there may be some structural damage at the microscopic level with some cell death. However, the primary problem is a chemical one in the cells that have survived the incident.

John Doherty goes on to explain via the research of David Hovda, PhD at UCLA.

When there is a sufficient blow to the brain, the membranes of the affected nerve cells in the brain are stretched or twisted, allowing potassium to exit those cells, which triggers those cells to depolarize, thus the phenomenon of seeing stars if the affected area is involved with sight or ringing in the ears if the affected area is involved with hearing. The exit of potassium (K+) peaks approximately two minutes after the incident but continues for another 3-4 minutes.

Then, until the chemical balance is somewhat restored, those neurons (nerve cells) are unable to fire again. Furthermore, in a protective reflex of sorts, surrounding cells begin to shut down, a process Hovda calls “spreading depression.”

If enough cells become depressed, confusion, amnesia, and even loss of consciousness result.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to recover, the brain starts using up massive amounts of blood sugar and will continue to do so for as long as 30 minutes. This overuse of this glucose results in the production of lactic acid which, in excess amounts, inhibits brain function.

A demand for glucose by the brain, such as when one is studying, logically causes an increase in blood flow to the brain. However for reasons not entirely clear, within two minutes of a…