Head injuries: Dealing with a concussion

A concussion is a serious injury that often occurs in contact sports and vehicular accidents. The injury can vary from minor to severe depending on the circumstances and usually brought about by abrupt impact to the head from any traumatic event.

A severe case can result to lasting brain damage or even death. Due to this, all head injuries should be taken seriously. A concussion is a brain injury due to impact against the skull. It can but not always cause loss of consciousness.

What are the indications?

Mild
A mild case of concussion includes the following:

  • Slight mental confusion with possibility for some memory loss
  • Minor tinnitus can be heard along with mild dizziness and/or headache
  • Pain or discomfort in the site of impact
    Concussion

    Minor tinnitus can be heard along with mild dizziness and/or headache is one of the early indications.

  • Normal balance is maintained
  • Individual does not lose consciousness during the incident
  • Varying loss of memory and ability to recall information

Moderate

For a moderate case of concussion, it includes symptoms such as:

  • Mental confusion accompanied by some memory loss
  • Moderate degree of tinnitus or ringing in the ears
  • Moderate dizziness and a headache
  • Altered balance
  • Minimal nausea or even vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness can occur but will not last longer than 5 minutes
  • Varying degree of memory loss and capability to recall information

Severe

When it comes to a severe case, it includes the following symptoms:

  • Mental confusion that lasts for 5 minutes or more
  • Intense ringing in the ears or tinnitus
  • Extended memory loss of events prior to the accident
  • Loss of consciousness for more than 5 minutes accompanied by an increase in the blood pressure and diminished heart rate

Management

The main treatment for a concussion is to rest from any activity until the symptoms settle. As the symptoms settle, the doctor will allow the individual to steadily resume activity with regular monitoring.

Immediate first aid

When managing a concussion, the following principles are used:

  • D (danger) – make sure that the individual and first aiders are not in danger
  • R (response) – check if the individual is responding or if he/she can talk or conscious
  • A (airway) – get rid of any foreign objects from the mouth and ensure that the airway is clear
  • B (breathing) – check if the individual is capable of breathing properly
  • C (circulation) – check if the individual has a pulse rate

Once these are checked, the next objective is to transfer the individual to a safe location but assessing first for any spinal cord or neck injury. This can manifest as neck tenderness, deformity or neck pain. If these are present, the individual should not be moved until immobilized using a brace.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a concussion is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage head injuries including a concussion, register for a first aid and CPR course with Vancouver First Aid.

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