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

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

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!

Posted on BrainLine June 19, 2012

BrainLine

Comments

I am 15 and yesterday during colorguard practice (colorguard is the girls during the football halftime shows that come out with the 5 feet long flags and twirl them around and toss them). But yeah we were doing the work for one of the sets and the girl next to me didn't move to her next spot which ended in me getting smacked by the medal part of the flag on my head a couple inches away from my left side temple. It stung for around 1 minute. Now its the next day and I have a headache and woke up later then normal. I don't know if that's the cause of me being naturally tired from the game or practice all week. Also the left side of my neck is starting to hurt. What do I do ?

You might wanna call the cops

How sad that at least three people have had boyfriends hit them. I hope you all have left them. One time is too many. don't give him another chance.

First off, leave the boyfriend...

I really hope you got out of that relationship. He sounds like a horrible person if he hit you. You don't deserve to be treated like that. If you need help please get the help you need.

I am 14 doing school cheerleading. I was back spotting a girl who was in the air when she fell right on top of my head. She hit the left side of my head/ear and I felt dizzy and my head stinged for about 20 seconds. I don't really know how to describe the feeling, but right after the blow, I could feel some liquid inside my head near my ear. It has been a few hours and I've been feeling super tired and sad, like I could cry at any second. My neck is sore. I don't really have headaches but my head sure feels bad. I don't think I feel "right" at all and it worries me. Don't know if I should go seek medical help at the moment.

I drank this weekend and I was over intoxicated I fell off my bed it's about 3feet up. My floor is concrete cause I live in a dorm I think my head bashed against the floor I'm having headaches and I have swelling on the left side of my head, and my left eye has also been bothering me as well should I wait and see if this goes away or should I go see a doctor?

I am 13 years old and yesterday one of my team mates spiked a volleyball and it hit me straight in the back of the head, I have a small headache maybe a migrain and I'm trying to figure out if I have a concussion

Hello i have a question iv been hit in the head by my boyfriend as well how long did it take u to feel better ?

Omg I am also 14 and I also got hit by a rounders ball, it's the same as a baseball or cricket ball, and I am here for the same reason. Only problem is that my symptoms are on and off and I don't know if I'm just overreacting!

I was involved in a motorcycle accident and only started feeling nauseous dizzy and double vision headaches pain around my neck and fatigue the next day what should I do?
I flew out of my boyfriends jeep which has no doors, and hit the back if my head. How long do u wait to sleep
I fainted at work and fell straight back I hit my head on concrete I couldn't barely walk, my vision wasn't right, I had a weird taste in my mouth, my mouth was so dry. I couldn't focus, everything sounded weird around me. I was falling in and out of sleep and I still don't feel right today?

I hit my right frontal lobe over a week ago and within more or less 2 days I started feeling symptoms of a concussion. I am in fact 12 and am taking my standardized test but it's on a computer what should I do?

I am almost 14. Today i got hit on the head with a ball with a soccer ball. I was sent out of the game because I wasn't feeling to good and I am researching if I have a concussion. 

I just got in an auto accident today in FtW TX (I was rear ended and got shoved). The accident appeared minor, but the back of my head hit the seat. When I got out of the car, I got dizzy and I afterwards threw up and started to have cold sweats. Part of me thinks it is shock of the accident, but part of me is concerned: What if? The police dismissed the accident as minor, but I am still in pain and I am concerned. I asked my work mates and my husband to watch me the next couple days to see any abnormalities in my behavior. I can't afford a CT scan. The insurance told me it is up to me if I seek any medical tests, but I have to pay for it. What should I do?

So we got a new horse a few days ago and I usually ride my quarter horse but I decided to ride the new horse (thoroughbred/quarter horse) and she was doing fine all the times I rode her, but today I was riding my horse and I told my dad to get on the new horse so we could ride together, he got on her and she started bucking, he fell off of her and hit his head really hard on the hard dirt. I watched it all happen and he told me that he has pressure in the top of his head and he kinds has a headache and he feels funny. I believe that he has swelling and I gave him ibuprofen but I'm starting to wonder if maybe he could possibly have bleeding inside of his skull.

I am 16 years old and I am from a rural village in Alaska. On October 8, 2016, I was in a bad quad accident. So, me and my two friends were going on this road near the village and it's was past 11pm so it was dark out. So anyway, I know that we were going pretty fast and we didn't know there was another quad ahead of us because they left their lights off. We bumped into them hard, really hard. I landed on my head on hard gravel and fractured the bone above and below your eye. There was bleeding somewhere in my skull and it was putting pressure on my brain so I got transported to Anchorage, AK. The neurosurgeons told my parents that I have a 50% chance of making it and they are grateful that I have pulled through. Still recovering. -Tim

I am currently 16 years old, and even being this age you would think Ii would have some kind of knowledge of what not to do in a Kroger store, or any store for that matter.....but no. I was with my best friend, I took a balloon that was floating as a decoration...and sucked the helium out of it. About 4 inhales later, I passed out. The last thing I remember before hitting the ground was a shelf of detergent. I woke up confused and a little scared. An older man was tapping on my shoulder I think, I cant fully remember. The side of my head hurt but the next day I noticed a knot on the back of my head so I question myself as to which way I had fallen. Luckily I had a thick head band on and my injury wasn't too serious. I do however have a headache still, and this is the day after the incident. But after doing some research, I am a tad afraid that I could have more critical results, I could just be paranoid.

i was walking my dog and there were three dogs walking passed us and I had to hold him down because they where trying to go after him, and he popped my jaw closed with the back of his head, it stunned me a little and I had to check to see if I still had all my teeth but ever since then I get random pains on my left side of my head... It's just that, no other signs. And the pain doesn't stay, it's there and gone in an instant, but it happens frequently. Nothing really triggers it. If I take pain killers it'll go away but come back after the meds go away.

Well I play football currently (I'm only in 8th grade so usually nothing bad like a brain injury happens) and during today's practice I had a few hard hits like when my head hit the ground a few times but the one that made me have to take a breath was a collision with a linebacker, I told the coaches that my head hurt a few plays after they asked if it was a concussion and at first all I did was say I don't think so. They asked again and I said no. Later after practice I came home and felt tired and really pukey I was gonna take a shower but I couldn't stand because my feet hurt so I took a bath, during the bath I fell asleep and woke up about a half an hour later. Now I'm looking up the symptoms and as I'm reading them I'm realizing how I forgot to do anything in the bath besides sleep and I'm laying in a dark room with a bowl next to me in case I puke. Please help me, I have no idea what to do.

My botfriend hit me in the head a few times very hard. Yes i have left him and yes, i have had a concussion because of it.

After hitting my head hard and looking for advice, I read through these comments. Now my only concern is for the girl who said your boyfriend hit you hard in the head, for the second time. I really hope you found the strength you needed to leave him. You do not deserve that, nobody does.

Wow.  I lost consciousness, had a seizure and suffered amnesia when I fell off my bicycle 35 years ago.  I haven't thought to tell any physicians.  I don't see what good it would do now...  I do suffer from depression and anxiety which developed in the years shortly after, and I take medication for that along with Nuvigil which helps my overall functioning immensely.

Just reading the comments in that font hurt my eyes and head. I was wakeboarding today and fell hard a number of times bc it was my first time and even though I was wearing a helmet, my head is still pounding and I feel super tired but I'm not sure if its just bc I was wakeboarding for 2 hours. I only hit my head on the water, not the jumps but it was technically cable boarding so it was a really rough start. it jerked you onto the water so fast, it was very hard for me. wish i could see the doc but don't know if i need to.

I have had 10+ concussions from low speed impact car accidents, falling, hitting a refrigerator, someone dropping their suitcase on me etc. over the years. After my last one I couldn't understand anything I tried to read. I found a clinic that provides hyperbaric oxygen treatments & went for 10 sessions. By the 8th treatment I could read, follow conversations, sleep comfortably, headache was gone, could type & felt more energetic. Read "the Oxygen Revolution, " by Paul Harch M.D. and find out what kind of healing is possible for yourself- regardless of how old your injuries are.

I tripped at a concert on the way out of the venue and they had set up a makeshift walkway which had a metal template sticking up out of nowhere. Anyway my flat sandal was stuck and i fell backwards and split my head open and broke my tailbone and my back has been killing me. I just had a second cat scan because my head has been killing me. I had 8 staples in my head and that was nothing compared to this pain believe it or not! My general practitioner didn't know that this had happened but when I saw him recently he looked at my right ear and asked if something was going on! I had noticed a swishing sound and off balance in my life and he saw a hemmorage there so that is why i had a second ct scan today...This accident happened 2 and half months ago..wow. .that shows you how long it can take for a hematoma to occur very scary..

Very helpful. Thank u

When I was 12 years old I was playing  football and I got hit in the head pretty hard. I blacked out on the field and didn't wake up till 6 at night. I had concussions before that to but not like that one. I had the concussion for 2 months. Everyone is different and will get different symptoms. I'm almost 19 now and I have short term memory loss and I still play football.

My boyfriend hit me hard in the head. The next day I was dizzy, sleepy, slurring my words. This is the second time he has done this. The first time I felt even worst. I was even scared to drive. Can you get a concussion if you get hit in the head hard enough??

My perspective: Doctors nowadays are so overworked and overwhelmed they seem to want to give patients the bare minimum of their time.

I fell in my home and broke my toe and hit my head. I went to the urgent care. They x-rayed my toe, but didn't want to hear anything about my head. I had a low grade headache, but no bleeding and no lump. I never lost consciousness. The doctor sort of berated me for wanting him to look at me, and tell me what to do about my head injury. Next day I'm feeling a little more confused and foggy, but I still have my memory and my pupils look normal, no vomiting, but I am a little cranky. Hard to know what to do when the doctors make fun of you for wanting advice you're told to get in this sort of situation.

If forming a blood clot has no symptoms, outside of a $3000 CT scan or MRI, how will the Dr determine this? Serious question, I would like to know. :)

Folks, a lot of you here have had concussions of varying degrees of severity. If your TBI was long ago, there's not much you can do. If it was recent, go to the doctor, just to make sure you have no bleeding or blood clots forming. These events may have no symptoms but could be progressive and could cause death within a few days. Your brain is fragile and just a moderate amount of it banging up against the cranial wall can injure tissue and blood vessels, helmet or no helmet. Please take this seriously.  

I have had my third concussion via motor vehicle accident. They are not my fault. This last one I flipped my suv after taking a seizure. The seizures started from being rear ended at a stop light. The doctors were not keeping an eye on my seizure medication levels and I had a seizure while driving. Thing is , I have been to the doc after five days in hospital complaining about post conclusive headaches and they just tell me oh you have brain injury. I have been back twice now. Next told it is just worsening of injuries from first motor vehicle accident. Come on I was knocked out in hospital five days. Am in severe pain help me. Any one else feel like they are talking to a brick wall. Oh ya. I did go to Physio at first, but the therapist was making me do things that brought on concussion symptoms like vertigo vomiting fainting and worsening of pain of other injuries I had to quit going all together. So in six months since the accident I have not had proper physio care. My head injury from my worse accident has left my skull with a Teflon plate on one side and brain gliosis or bruising in both temples and frontal lobes. My EEG show significant brain damage from past head injuries that it was commented on I needed to be careful. As well as I needed a referral for a new neurologist to be seen every three months. And this is Ontario Canada. Any one else having similar situation

I hit my head snowboarding  and went to the doctors the next day and the doctors didn't do anything about it and then i went to the hospital on two days after i hit my head and after my headaches and vision got worse. The hospital didn't do a MRI or CT scan they just told me i have a concussion. Like who knows if i have anything wrong with my brain. It was so stupid and now i will never know if i have anything wrong with my head 

My neurologist said bleeding is always present and seen by an MRI no matter what. I fell six feet right on my temple- full force. He lied to me.

I am fourteen and have had two concussions which were two months apart. first one was in july and was a grade 3 concussion and second one was in september and was a grade one concussion. i am still not allowed to play sports. It is a bad excuse to get out of school!

Great help informative

Find an osteopath who does cranio sacral therapy . I was hit by a car when I was cycling and had a concussion . After just the first session the confusion and disorientation and vision problems improved . After the second session the dizziness was gone. The bones in the skull are gently repositioned Fabulous therapy

I have had 3 car wrecks and got ran over by a car all before I was 15 and a few days ago I hit my head and it didn't seem like a big deal but from all my head injurys I can't remember a lot of things so my head hurts and my stomach was sick and I was a little blurry but now I don't know what to do it has messed with my mind so much I can't remember a lot and I have children what should I do

Can your eyes still be blurry if u have a concussion? But now show on ct or mri

I've had 4 concussions, just by the age of 16. My most recent one was the beginning summer. All 4 of them have been because of soccer. I was wondering if i should continue playing?

I've gotten two concussions in my life but I don't remember exactly how they happened. The first one was when I was six, I was swinging and I remember going very high before I blacked out. When I woke up I was being carried inside and I last consciousness a few more times after that because the pain in my head was so severe and eventually I vomited. My parents figured it wasn't really a concussion and never took me to the doctor. It wasn't until years later when I got another concussion (from falling and heading my head against the bottom of an empty pool) and I complained of chronic headaches and memory loss that they finally took me to see someone. Now I get a nasty headache almost every week and my long term memory is much worse than it used to be. Make sure to get yourself checked out if you get a head injury because the after effects can last for years, if not indefinitely.

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.

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.

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?

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!

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.

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!
 

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