A closed head injury is usually referred to as a concussion which means there is no bleeding involved. Concussions range in severity from mild to severe. Concussions occur from a hit to the head. This is also known as a blunt force trauma. This head injury can be caused by falls and accidents. Children and adults who play sports, especially contact sports such as football are more likely to suffer a head injury. A concussion can also occur from rapid head movement such as an auto accident or from shaking a baby which can lead to a traumatic brain injury.
Symptoms of a Concussion
The immediate symptoms of a concussion are the inability to remember the traumatic event that caused the concussion, confusion, slurred speech, headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, ringing in the ears and dizziness. The symptoms that can occur hours or days after the head injury are irritability, inability to sleep or sleeping too much, memory loss, sensitivity to noise, depression, difficulty concentrating and sensitivity to light. The symptoms of a concussion in young children and children who are not of speaking age are vomiting, seizures, lethargy, sleepiness, irritability, difficulty balancing, loss of appetite, sleep too little or too much, off balance when trying to walk and stand.
When to Seek Medical Help
Seek immediate emergency medical help especially if the person loses consciousness, can't stop vomiting, confusion, loss of balance, stumbling, slurred speech, worsening headache and amnesia. If you are concerned about a possible concussion see you doctor. A doctor will order a CT scan of your brain to make sure nothing else is going on.
For a mild concussion your doctor will prescribe rest and an over the counter pain reliever such as Tylenol. Only take acetaminophen. Do NOT take aspirin or ibuprofen such as Motrin or Advil as these can increase the risk of bleeding in your brain. You should not stay alone for the first 24 hours. Whoever is with you should make sure you are able to wake up from sleep easily. If you cannot wake the person easily call 911 for emergency medical help.
For a moderate concussion you may be admitted to the hospital for 24 hours of observation.
For either a mild or moderate concussion: Do NOT engage in physical activities especially the one that caused your injury for a minimum of 1 week to several months depending on the severity of the concussion. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to return to your normal activities.
A severe concussion usually involved a period of time when the victim is in a comatose state. The victim will most likely have to be admitted to a long term physical rehabilitation facility to re-learn many basic skills such as walking, talking and feeding themselves. This is the same scenario for those who have suffered repeated concussions or concussions too close in time to each other.
Always listen to your doctor especially when it involves sitting on the sidelines in sports. It is batter to lose a season than to lose the ability to function without help.