Emergency Care for Urgent Situations: Concussions
A concussion is the mild traumatic brain injury that occurs after trauma to your head or after an injury causing whiplash which causes your head and brain to shake violently back and forth. Even though the brain is soft and delicate, not to mention important and one of the body’s major organs, it is usually protected quite nicely by the skull as well as the bones of the face. However, a knock to the head or whiplash accidents can lead to one suffering a concussion. There was a time when concussions were not being taken as seriously as they should but recent research has shown that they may actually be more serious than many thought they were, having more serious long-term consequences especially for those who suffer multiple concussions. We have seen what has happened to retired professional football players, some of whom have brought lawsuits to the NFL in recent years. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, CTE, has been linked with repeated head trauma and concussions, and has driven a number of high-profile sports personalities to suicide. All the talk about concussions has brought it to the national light and has triggered conversations about it, which is good news especially with autumn in full swing, with a majority of folks, especially our children, being involved in autumn sports such as football. It is important to know the symptoms of a concussion as well as how to proceed if one has suffered a concussion, something this article will look to help with.
Let us start with the symptoms of a concussion. The most common symptoms as far as concussions are concerned include loss of consciousness even if it is just brief, problems with memory, dizziness, drowsiness, a headache, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light, issues with balance, issues with vision such as blurred or double vision, confusion, seizures, slurred speech, trouble walking, blood or clear fluid oozing from their ears or nose, pupils being unequal in size or being unusually large, changes in one’s mood, trouble focusing among others. It is important to note that while some of these symptoms may be manifested immediately, others may take time and may occur much later after the injury. If someone suffers a head trauma, and is also presenting with any of the above symptoms, then it probably means they have suffered from a concussion. The first thing to do when you suspect that someone has suffered a concussion is to call 911 or for medical help as soon as possible.
As you wait for medical help to arrive, you should immediately look to immobilize the head of the injured person by holding it with both hands in the position you found them in and you should ensure you don’t move them unless absolutely necessary. This is important as most injuries involving the head and neck can lead to a spinal injury. Therefore, unless it has been ruled out by a medical professional, it is always important to assume that one has suffered a spinal injury. This is also why you shouldn’t move someone off the field after they suffer from such an injury and should wait until medical services arrives after which they can be attended to and moved safely. After immobilizing their head, if there is a cut that is bleeding, try maintaining gentle pressure on it so as to try and keep the bleeding in check until emergency services arrives. There are some injuries that may cause cuts that may bleed, leading to loss of blood which can be serious as we all know. It is important to try and stop the bleeding until help arrives. When applying pressure, don’t press too hard as this could push bone fragments into the brain in case there is a skull fracture.
As you wait for emergency services to arrive, you should keep a close eye on the injured person, keeping them calm as well as ensuring that they stay aware, engaged and awake. Concussion symptoms could worsen at any time even if the person was appearing stable at one time. To ensure that you keep tabs on their condition, it is recommended that you ask them a number of simple questions and as such not only will you keep them awake and engaged, you can be able to know if their situation worsens. Ask questions such as what their name is, if they know where they are, their age, hold up fingers and ask them to tell you how many you are holding up as well as uttering a simple phrase and telling them to repeat what you just said to them. This, however, only applies to instances where the injured person is conscious. If they are unconscious, you should still proceed the same as above by immobilizing their head as well as ensuring the scene is safe and there aren’t any objects that could potentially injure them. If they are not breathing, you should perform CPR while ensuring their head remains immobilized and ensuring you don’t move the injured person until emergency medical help arrives.
If you ever find yourself in an urgent situation involving possible concussion, hopefully the above discussion will help you know how you should proceed to ensure that the injured person gets the help they need and any unwanted consequences are avoided.