Concussion: How To Tell & What First Aid To Administer | Concussion is a surprisingly common occurrence. Recent statistics suggest that 1 million children a year suffer from concussions and between 3-4 million adults. The good news is that approximately 90% of concussions are not serious.
However, that does illustrate how important it is to understand concussion, how to tell when someone has one, and what first aid to administer.
A concussion is best described as a loss of mental function. It doesn’t usually last for long and happens suddenly.
In most cases concussion is caused by a blow to the head. This could be while playing sports, the result of an accident, or even being deliberately punched in the head.
The blow will cause the brain to move inside your skull and impact with the sidewalls of your head. In effect, your brain is damaged but there is no internal bleeding or inflammation. It simply needs a short time to return to normal function.
Common signs of concussion include:
- Brief loss of consciousness after a blow to the head
- Memory loss
- Problems with vision, such as seeing stars
Other signs that you may notice are frequent headaches after the injury, balance issues, difficulties communicating or understanding, vomiting, and a loss of strength in one part of the body.
Best Case Scenario
The best case is that a qualified health professional is on hand when the incident happens. They will be able to assess the individual and decide if they have, or are likely to have a concussion.
They’ll provide advice regarding what to watch for and when to get them to a hospital or request an urgent appointment with a neurosurgeon.
In all cases, a concussion can only be diagnosed by a healthcare professional.
First Aid Steps
If you think someone has a concussion then you must take them to the hospital where they can be assessed and treated.
Of course, in most situations, you will know they have hit their head. But, if they haven’t lost consciousness you may not be sure whether there is an issue or not. In these cases, you need to monitor the person and make sure they don’t go to sleep.
You can place a cold compress on the site of impact to help reduce any swelling and paracetamol can be used to help with any pain. Do not use Ibruprofen or aspirin, these can cause bleeding in the brain.
It is also important to avoid taking any drugs or alcohol.
Then, simply monitor the person. If they show any signs of weakness, confusion, or vision issues they will need to see a doctor.
It is important to monitor them for at least 48 hours. The symptoms and effects of a concussion should pass within 48 hours. If they haven’t it’s time to get an appointment with a neurosurgeon, they can investigate if it is something more serious, such as bleeding on the brain or between the brain and skull. A neurosurgeon can treat the issue, allowing the person t continue living a normal life.