A concussion is defined as an impact to the head. When the head is jolted and shaken by a blow, the brain collides and rebounds from the skull. This will result in swelling of the brain tissue, and in severe cases, a bruise may appear on the brain tissue called a contusion. Brain tissues are sensitive and delicate; therefore, a forceful blow may greatly impact the normal functioning of the brain due to tearing, stretching, swelling and twisting of the brain and nerve tissues. The messaging system is affected and certain mental and physical activities become impaired.
Concussions may provide widespread disturbances in the normal functioning of the brain, but the effects are often short-lived. The casualty may suffer from defected consciousness and concentration for a short period of time after which, he becomes fully recovered. Therefore, a concussion can only be diagnosed by the duration of the recovery process. If problems and symptoms persist for more than a few minutes, it is advisable that you seek for medical help.
Sports injuries are the most common causes of concussions however; many concussion cases have also been recorded due to car accidents, whiplash, falls, blows on the head etc. It is possible that a person may faint after being concussed; therefore it is very important that you call for prompt medical help immediately as this may be a sign of moderate or severe brain damage.
Symptoms and signs
- Impaired consciousness
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Delayed responses
- Impaired memory
- Uncoordinated movement
- Unequal and/or dilated pupils
- Impaired balance
- Lack of focus
- Bleeding behind the ears
- Mood swings and behavioral changes
- Inability to perform simple calculations
Suspect brain damage if the following signs are apparent:
- Persistent headaches
- Pale skin
- Difficulty in speaking
- Pink or reddish fluid oozing out of the ears, nose and/or mouth
- Paralysis or weakness of the arm and/or leg on the opposite side of the head injury
- Paralysis of the face on the same side as the injury in the head
While you take care of the person till medical help arrives, make sure you do NOT make the casualty drink anything, even water.
Stop any bleeding or swelling
- Allow the person to lie down and rest
- Use a sterile piece of cloth to wrap some ice and firmly press the cloth on the wounded area to stop any swelling or bleeding
Treating the Symptoms
- If the person is feeling any pain, do not try to alleviate it by giving him any pills or medications as this may aggravate the condition
Monitor the symptoms
- It is ideal that you stay with the casualty for 24 hours if you suspect that the blow was a minor one and the person has not undergone brain injury
Call a doctor when:
- Headache persists or gets worse
- The casualty continues vomiting
- The person is going through seizures, heart palpitations or unconsciousness
- There is increased confusion or rambling of words
- The person experiences neck pain after a fall.
Hands on training
To learn how to effective recognized and manage patients with brain injuries take a workplace approved first aid course (register here) through a credible provider.