What To Do After a Concussion
A concussion is a disturbance of function of the nerve cells in the brain as a result of a blow to the skull. This means that parts of the brain’s functions are temporarily on hold. The symptoms include temporary unconsciousness, headache, a loss of memory concerning the critical incident. Vomiting and nausea are also common.
Although most people recover fully within seven to ten days after a concussion, how quickly they improve depends very much on how well they take care of themselves after the injury.
Concussion Treatment at Home
Bleeding under the scalp, but outside the skull, creates a large bruise (hematoma) at the site of the head injury. A hematoma is common and will go away in its own with time. The use of ice immediately after the trauma may help decrease its size.
Do not apply ice directly to the skin. Use a washcloth as a barrier and wrap the ice in it.
Apply ice for 20 to 30 minutes at a time and repeat about every two to four hours. There is little benefit after 48 hours.
Rest is important to allow the brain to heal.
Tips to follow after a concussion
- Get plenty of sleep at night, and rest during the day. Keep a regular schedule.
- Avoid activities that are physically demanding, require a lot of concentration, or are mentally or emotionally stressful.
- Avoid multitasking.
- Your reaction times may be slower, so ask your physician when you can safely drive a car, ride a bike, or operate major equipment.
- Consider returning to work or school gradually.
- Take only drugs that your health care professional has approved.
- Adults should not drink alcohol.
- Avoid playing video games.
If the concussion has been particularly severe or the patient does not rest, there is a risk that the symptoms may stay for months and, in a few instances, the injuries become permanent. There is also a small risk or developing epilepsy after a concussion. The risks are particularly high when the concussions occur repeatedly, i.e. in boxers. This condition is known as post-traumatic cerebral disorder. After a concussion many people suffer from heavy headaches, dizziness, tiredness, irritability, sensitivity to sound and a lack of ability to concentrate. There may be an uncomfortable feeling when consuming alcohol. If you have had a concussion and are experiencing any of these symptoms consult your doctor. The younger the patient is when having a concussion usually has a better chance of a complete recovery.
Post concussion syndrome more commonly follows a mild head injury and includes headaches, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, depression, and anxiety. This syndrome can develop even if brain damage is minimal or absent on investigation. All head injury patients require adequate medical assessment and for any other than minor injuries, this should be by a consultant in trauma medicine or a neurologist.
Second Impact Syndrome
If the concussion occurred while playing sports to an athlete the athlete must fully recover before he or she has been evaluated by a physician and is fully recovered. A repeat concussion that occurs before the brain recovers from the first, usually within a short period of time, can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems. In rare cases, repeat concussions can result in edema (brain swelling), permanent brain damage, and even death.
Second impact syndrome, or SIS, occurs when an athlete returns to sport too early after suffering from an initial concussion. The athlete does not need to receive a strong second blow to the head to set the effects in motion. The athlete may receive only a minor blow to the head or a hit to the chest or back that snaps the head enough to have the brain rebound inside the skull.
The risk for second impact syndrome should be considered in a variety of sports associated with likelihood of blows to the head, including football. Neurologists say once a person suffers a concussion, he is as much as four times more likely to sustain a second one. Moreover, after several concussions, it takes less of a blow to cause the injury and requires more time to recover.
Brain Injury Information
- Anatomy of the Brain
- Brain Injury Glossary
- Brain Injury Prevention
- Brain Injury Statistics
- Children’s Brain Injuries
- Common Causes of TBI
- Concussion Checklist
- Effects of Brain Injury
- Emotional Changes Associated with Brain Injury
- Financial Costs of Brain Injuries
- Football Brain Injuries
- Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Symptoms of Brain Injury
- TBI Frequently Asked Questions
- Treatment for TBI
- What is Traumatic Brain Injury?
- What To Do After a Concussion