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What Should You Do If You Think You Have Had a Concussion?

Comments [18]

BrainLine

What Should You Do If You Think You Have Had a Concussion?
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What exactly is a concussion?

Although there is actually no single, accepted definition of concussion, it is commonly described as a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the function of the brain.

Also called a mild traumatic brain injury, a concussion can result from a car crash, a sports injury, or from a seemingly innocuous fall. Concussions can also occur when the head and upper body are shaken violently. Recovery times can vary greatly.

So, how do you know if you should seek medical attention or wait and see?

The best answer: when in doubt, get prompt medical attention. Lots of people may have a headache or dizziness for a day or so and then recovery fully, but a very small group of people who sustain a concussion — five percent — can develop bleeding or a blood clot that can be life threatening if not promptly diagnosed.

Brain injuries are extremely common, but diagnosis can be complicated. Today, there is no single, objective measure that can determine if someone has had a concussion. To make a diagnosis, professionals look at many variables that might indicate trauma,  ranging from changes in balance to memory lapses and dizziness.

It’s critical to seek immediate medical attention in a hospital or emergency department if any of these symptoms are present:

  • Loss of consciousness, even if only briefly
  • Any period of amnesia, or loss of memory for the event
  • Feeling dazed or confused
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Seizure
  • In addition, for children under 2 years of age, any scalp swelling or abnormality in the way they usually behave.

And if possible, see a medical professional who has knowledge of and experience with brain injury.

Tests

Depending on your symptoms, your age, and the severity of the injury, the emergency department physicians may order some tests. Here are some of the most common:

  • Neurological test– A basic neurological exam in the ER assesses motor and sensory skills, the functioning of one or more cranial nerves, hearing and speech, vision, coordination and balance, mental status, and changes in mood or behavior, among other abilities. 
  • CT scan– A CT is a special computerized x-ray that provides images of the brain and is sometimes used to look for suspected bleeding or swelling.
  • MRI scan– A Magnetic Resonance Imaging test provides detailed pictures of the brain using magnetic energy instead of radiation.

Even though someone has had a concussion, the MRI and CT scans are often negative. That does not mean that there is no injury; it just means that the damage is not visible on the scans.

Rest

Simple though it sounds, rest is the best treatment we have today for a concussion.

If you think of the brain as an engine, it runs out of gas faster after an injury. Rest is the only way to fill up the tank again. So, the best way to recover is to rest.

Rest is important because the brain continues to heal even after all the symptoms are gone. At least initially, rest means not reading, not listening to music, not watching TV. It means no texting, no email, no cell phone. Rest means physical rest AND cognitive rest.

That said, if symptoms persist — headaches, nausea, dizziness, balance problems, confusion — after you have gotten medical care, call your healthcare provider again. Be persistent and find a healthcare provider who specializes in treating traumatic brain injury.

Prognosis

Most people who sustain a concussion or mild TBI are back to normal often in a week or two and almost always within a few months. But others can have long-term problems either from the concussion or from injury to surrounding soft tissues.

The sooner someone is diagnosed, the better the chances for a good recovery because rest is so important

One word of caution: Because a concussion affects the brain, the injured person may lack the clear judgment to make an informed decision regarding whether or not to go to the hospital. Family and friends can be instrumental in urging him or her to seek medical attention. Remember, when in doubt, check it out!

BrainLine

Comments [18]

Sounds like you have a traumatic brain injury. TBI is nicknamed the invisible brain injury but symptoms are real and permanent. My husband was in a car accident in 2006 and simply told he had severe concussion...two years later he was properly diagnosed and has a team of doctors now helping with every defficit he faces. Study TBI...it is permanent brain damage.

Jul 18th, 2015 9:32pm

I was involved in a car accident as a passenger back in 1987. A drunk driver broadsided our four door car. The rear passenger door buckled and my first reaction was turning my body to the left to get out of the seat. My head went into the windshield and left a round spidered circle. I was knocked out but had came back as the car was in a spin for a ditch. The car went through a barbed wire fence into a farmers field. Although shaken up I did not go to the hospital at age 11. The following days I had headache and nausea and slept straight for two days. I was a kid and felt invincible up to that point. Then fear started to take over. My outlet was sports and I wasn't going to let fear take me over. But the fogginess and confusion still persisted for months later and a loss of short term memory. Long term memory became excellent to almost supernatural. Years later I had CT scans and mRI scans done. Nothing showed. After high school I quit sports altogether then noticed how much has changed since with mood, emotions, and irritability. There are long term effects that need to be recognized with concussions and I hope someone does studies on this.

Jun 19th, 2015 12:42pm

My husband hit his head on a low beam in the house ten days ago he was nausea, confused, exhausted, forgetful he's gradually getting better with plenty of rest over the four days post the inccident he came home after the first full week back at work and fell asleep 19.30 last night it's now approx 8.00am on the next morning and he's still asleep he's 34 and very fit and healthy is this just part of the recovery?

Jun 13th, 2015 2:58am

My husband fell forward on concrete at work. He softened the head blow with his arms. A man ran up to help and kicked him in the temple with a steel toe shoe. He was trying to help. I believe he had a concussion. Sleeping a lot, memory issues, or just didn't make sense! I have never delt with this. And he is pron to blood clots. After over 2 weeks he is better. Neck and head still hurting. He also broke his toe and still made him work!

May 28th, 2015 1:50am

I've had 10 or 11 concussions over the course of my athletic career, and the biggest mistake I ever made was rushing back to play again because I felt "fine." If you've had a recent concussion, you're now much more susceptible to a severe concussion from even a mild blow to the head. I know - it happened to me. The second one was a mild bump and it rendered me unable to work or think for a week. Scary. I post this now because I just fell from 10 feet during a CrossFit competition (hands slipped on the pull-up bar), and now I have to decide how quickly I can get back in the gym. My ego tells me I'll be good to go tomorrow, but my experience tells me to wait a week at least.

May 25th, 2015 4:03pm

Sounds like some people on here have had or have concussions, I"m not a doctor only someone suffering with a concussion.  To answer the questions as to why they haven't gone to the emergency room or doctor or whatever, with my concussion I've found, I have needed someone to tell me what to do, for some reason I wasn't able to make the decision for myself.  Part of myself kept thinking I was making a big deal out of nothing etc and part of me knew I should see a doctor but until someone told me to make an appointment, I was unable.  Anyway, if you think you may have a concussion go see the doctor and tell him how you are feeling.  I was in a car accident, I had not visible injuries and no one thought to ask the right questions regarding concussion, I thought I was fine, just in shock maybe, but I wasn't.  So call!
 

Jan 9th, 2015 11:15am

Is there a specific time frame after the injury that vomiting would occur?

Dec 23rd, 2014 10:17pm

Get a ct scan, make sure theres no bleeding. And rest, stay out of gym.

Oct 23rd, 2014 12:55am

Come on people a bit of common sense is needed here writing in the comments box isnt going to get you a reply from a doctor if your unsure about going to A&E ring the out of hours or non emergency and they will tell you if you need medical attention

Sep 10th, 2014 11:58pm

Jesus people, yes you have a concussion. I've had several and all of your symptoms sound much worse than what I was experiencing, or on par with the worst one.

Aug 27th, 2014 7:42pm

Good Grief.  If you are asking if you need to be seen by a doctor, then you need to be seen by a doctor.  

Aug 21st, 2014 3:03pm

Go to the doctor right away, even if you're feeling mostly better. Its your brain - you will be sorry you took extra precaution. Please see a doc.

Aug 18th, 2014 9:01pm

Thats a graet help thanks i really needed that thanks x

Jul 18th, 2014 6:28pm

I am 12 and got a one when playing soccer. The doc said I would be able to play in a week or so but after a week I was still not feeling good so my mom took me agian and they ened up saying I wasn't aloud in loud places so I couldn't do anything or be around anything that is really loud.

Jun 18th, 2014 9:21pm

I'm 18 and I got bashed in the nose by someone's head at Rockfest yesterday. The doctors said I have a mild concussion but I've never been injured before so I'm a little worried and freaking out just a bit. I'm hoping because I'm  young and relatively healthy it won't take long to heal. My work isn't going to let me have any days off for it, I'm sure. :/

Jun 1st, 2014 8:11am

I am 29 years old and I crashed a dirt bike going over a 9th jump and Landed on my head. I knocked myself completely out. I woke up 17 hours later in a hospital. CT scan was normal. Good thing I was wearing a good helmet and my neck brace or my neck would be broken for sure. 2 weeks later I still have symptoms. Doctors say it's normal. Takes a while for the Brain to heal up!

Apr 7th, 2014 5:37pm

My experience is that what happened to me was summarized as Organic Brain Syndrome. For me, caffeine works a little to temporarily improve the ability to pay attention and comprehend a little better.

Nov 14th, 2013 8:52am

My head got slammed in a car door tonight by accident. I think that I may have a concussion. When I was younger and had one the dr. told me not to go to sleep for 2 hrs. after it happened. So that is what I am going to do. Wait 2 hrs. before going to sleep. I had a pounding head ache prior to this happening tonight too. :( So this just makes it feel worse.

Aug 29th, 2013 10:09pm


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