What is a concussion?
Concussions are the result of a temporary disturbance in brain function due to trauma. They can be caused by a direct (e.g. falling and hitting your head) or indirect (e.g. whiplash) force to the head and/or neck. They can, but more often occurs without loss of consciousness.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Things you can recognise in others:
- Slow response or vacant
- Slurred speech
- Loss of memory
- Distracted, disorientated, uncoordinated or unsteadiness
- Emotionally confused
Things to ask for:
- “Pressure in head”
- Neck pain
- Feeling sick
- Dizziness or blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling “slowed down”, “in a fog”, “don’t feel right”
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering
- Low energy or fatigue
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Feeling emotional, irritable, sad, nervous or anxious
Emergency signs and symptoms:
- Suspected spinal injury
- Drowsiness or cannot be woken up
- Worsening headache
- Vomiting repeatedly
- Weakness in arms or legs
- Unequal pupil size
- Slurred speech
In a case of emergency, call an ambulance or present to A+E
How do I manage a concussion?
- Come down from the ski field
- Requires mental and physical rest
- No alcohol
- Avoid driving or unsupervised medication
- Requires monitoring for 24-48 hours
- Medical clearance to return
Take home messages:
- Most concussions occur without loss of consciousness from a direct or non-direct force to the head.
- Early detection is one of the most useful things you can do. Immediate removal from activity after a suspected concussion will improve your recovery time frame.
- No two concussions will present the same. There is a spectrum of severities and a variety of signs and symptoms to look out for.
- Loss of consciousness or the initial severity of symptoms is not necessarily a prediction of the severity of the injury or length of recovery.
- Management is complete mental and physical rest. (i.e. no exercise – even light exercise), no TV, reading, etc. Be as lazy as you can!
- Return to physical activity should follow medical clearance followed by a supervised symptom based program with stages of exercise progression.
Remember the 4 R’s
- Remove from activity
- Refer for medical assessment
- Rest physically and mentally
- Return to activity following medical clearance