What to do if you think you have a concussion? How do you know if you have a concussion? Is it possible to play sports after a concussion, and what should be the general treatment?

A concussion is one of the forms of closed traumatic brain injury. As a rule, this is an easily reversible dysfunction of the brain, resulting from a bruise, blow, or sudden head movement. It is believed that due to a concussion, there is a temporary disruption of interneuronal connections.

As a result of contact of the substance of the brain with the bones of the skull, the following occurs:

  • Changes in some of the physical or chemical properties of neurons can alter the spatial organization of protein molecules.
  • The entire substance of the brain is susceptible to pathological effects.
  • Temporary disconnection of relationships and signal transmission between the synapses of neurons in cells and brain regions. It contributes to the development of functional disorders.

Depending on the severity of the patient’s condition and clinical symptoms, there are three degrees of concussion:

  • Mild concussion. There is no impairment of consciousness; the victim may experience disorientation, headache, dizziness, or nausea during the first 20 minutes after the injury. After that, the general state of health returns to normal. A short-term rise in temperature is possible.
  • Concussion of moderate severity. There is no loss of consciousness, but pathological symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, and disorientation occur, all lasting more than twenty minutes. There may be short-term memory loss, most often retrograde amnesia with the loss of a few minutes of memories before the injury.
  • Severe concussion. It is necessarily accompanied by loss of consciousness for a short period, usually from several minutes to several hours. The victim does not remember what happened, retrograde amnesia develops. Pathological symptoms bother a person for one to two weeks after the injury.

Symptoms a concussion

What to do if you think you have a concussion? The first thing to remember is that even a minor head injury can lead to a concussion. Consequently, the fact of the presence of an injury may already indicate a possible concussion.

Symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Short-term confusion.
  • Dizziness. Observed at rest, and with a change in the body’s position, turning or tilting the head, it increases. Its cause is a violation of blood circulation in the vestibular apparatus.
  • A throbbing headache.
  • Noise in ears.
  • Weakness.
  • Nausea and single vomiting.
  • Confusion and delayed incoherent speech.
  • Diplopia. When trying to read, pain is felt with eye movement.
  • Photophobia. The eyes can react painfully to normal light levels.
  • Hypersensitivity to noise. Even mild sounds can be annoying.
  • Movement coordination disorder. The easiest way to diagnose a person standing with eyes closed and arms raised to the sides is to touch the tip of the nose with the index finger. The second option is to put one foot behind the other, walk in a straight line, close your eyes, raise your arms in different directions, and take a few small steps. It is not recommended to do this on your own to avoid repeated injury.

How to accurately diagnose a concussion?

  • When moving his eyes to the sides, the victim complains of pain and cannot take them to the extreme position.
  • In the first hours after the injury, slight dilation or constriction of the pupils may be found. The reaction of the pupils to light is normal.
  • The slight asymmetry of tendon and skin reflexes are different on the left and right. This feature is highly variable. For example, during the initial examination, the right knee reflex may be somewhat more vivid than the left; upon repeated examination, both knee reflexes are identical after a few hours, but there is a difference in the Achilles reflexes.
  • Small horizontal nystagmus (involuntary tremulous movements) if you take your eyes to the most extreme positions. The patient is asked to trace a small object in the examiner’s hands. In extreme positions, slight return movements of the pupil are noticeable.
  • Unsteadiness in the Romberg position (legs together, straight arms extended forward to a horizontal level, eyes closed).
  • There may be a slight tension in the occipital muscles, which disappears within the first three days.

You should pay particular attention to the diagnosis of symptoms of a concussion in infants and young children; in them, it often proceeds without impairment of consciousness:

  • When the skin turns pale at the time of injury, the heart rate increases, then lethargy and drowsiness appear.
  • In infants, regurgitation during feeding, vomiting, anxiety, sleep disorders are noted. All manifestations disappear in 2-3 days.
  • In young children, concussion often occurs without loss of consciousness. The general condition improves within 2-3 days.

Headaches are constantly pulsating in nature, localized in the back of the head. Such violations last from 3 to 7 days, differing in significant intensity in persons suffering from hypertension. Such patients should be given more careful attention during the examination.

First aid for concussion

First aid for concussion

If the victim is unconscious, call an ambulance immediately. An unconscious person should be laid on a hard surface on the right side with bent legs and elbows. Tilt their head up and turn towards the ground in such a position will provide good air passage and prevent fluid aspiration in case of vomiting. If the victim is bleeding from a head wound, you should apply a hemostatic bandage. If the person regained consciousness or there was no fainting at all, lay them horizontally with their head elevated. Constantly monitor their consciousness, do not let the victim fall asleep.

It is essential to know that all patients with head trauma should go to an emergency room regardless of their severity and well-being. The traumatologist will decide if they are sent for outpatient observation with a neurologist or hospitalized in the neurological department to diagnose and monitor the condition.

Remember, if a person is unconscious and you cannot independently determine the severity, it is best not to touch them or try to turn or turn over again. If there are factors that threaten their life, for example, liquids, loose substances, small objects that can enter the respiratory tract, they must be eliminated.

If you don’t follow your doctor’s advice and ignore treatment, health problems can arise after a concussion. Approximately 3% of patients have complications such as epilepsy, persistent asthenic syndrome, insomnia, migraines, and other conditions.

  • How to accurately diagnose a concussion?

    When moving his eyes to the sides, the victim complains of pain and cannot take them to the extreme position. In the first hours after the injury, slight dilation or constriction of the pupils may be found. The reaction of the pupils to light is normal. The slight asymmetry of tendon and skin reflexes are different on the left and right. This feature is highly variable. For example, during the initial examination, the right knee reflex may be somewhat more vivid than the left; upon repeated examination, both knee reflexes are identical after a few hours, but there is a difference in the Achilles reflexes. Small horizontal nystagmus (involuntary tremulous movements) if you take your eyes to the most extreme positions. The patient is asked to trace a small object in the examiner’s hands. In extreme positions, slight return movements of the pupil are noticeable. Unsteadiness in the Romberg position (legs together, straight arms extended forward to a horizontal level, eyes closed). There may be a slight tension in the occipital muscles, which disappears within the first three days.