Head Trauma Safety: What to Do if You Suspect a Concussion
Our brains are soft masses with the consistency of jelly, suspended in cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid keeps our brains from bouncing around in our hard skulls from everyday movement. Most of the movement our head does is cushioned by this fluid. Abrupt trauma to the head can cause the brain to move around inside the skull, causing it to strike and bounce against your inner skull. Examples of such events are hard falls, car accidents, sports accidents and over-enthusiastic head banging at a heavy metal concert. A concussion is the brain injury that one sustains from such quick movement. Brain injuries such as these can lead to bleeding; bleeding in the brain can often times be fatal.
Anyone who suffers a brain injury needs to be monitored for hours because the effects of the trauma may be delayed. Immediately call an ambulance if any of the following symptoms are observed in someone who has just experienced head trauma.
- mismatched pupil sizes
- repeated vomiting
- confusion and/or agitation
- altering levels of consciousness
- slurred speech
- extreme drowsiness
Depending on the severity, there are treatments that can be administered at the scene of the accident or wherever the trauma took place. If the injury took place while playing a sport, have the victim stop physical activity immediately; continuing could make the brain injury worse. Soon after they have sat, apply ice to the affected area in an attempt to control swelling. For the pain, they should take acetaminophen (Tylenol); don’t give them ibuprofen (Advil), as it may make the bruising worse. Monitor the victim’s symptoms for 24 hours if possible. If the symptoms continue to worsen, call a doctor or take them to the ER.