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Concussion Treatment and Prevention

Man having a minor concussion after bicycle fall.

When somebody has a blow to the head, or any other type of injury to the head, it is possible for a concussion to occur. This is basically a very short loss of mental function. It is a very common type of brain injury and generally the least dangerous type. In medical terms, it is known as a minor traumatic brain injury. It is characterized by a short loss of consciousness, often followed by some memory loss. Many also notice a disturbance in vision, which is what is described as “seeing stars”. Some confusion is also common.

When to Request Medical Assistance
Most of the time, if someone has a minor concussion, no medical help is required.

Recovery is quite quick and can be done at home. However, if any of the signs point to a potentially more serious injury, it is important to immediately seek medical help. Don’t take chances, as the brain is one of our body’s most delicate – and most important – organs. If you notice any of the following concussion signs, you should phone the emergency number straight away:
• If the patient does not regain consciousness
• If the patient experiences a fit or seizure
• If the patient is bleeding from one or both of their ears
• If the patient struggles to stay awake, has slurred speech or no longer understands what people say.

Concussion Treatment at Home
There are quite a few things you can do in your own home to relieve concussion symptoms. You should always apply an ice pack to the injured area, so swelling is reduced. Remember to always have a fabric around the ice pack. If you experience any pain, you should take some paracetamol or other painkillers. Do not consume any alcohol or other recreational drugs if you have had a head injury.

Concussion Recovery
After someone has had a concussion, they should be monitored for a while. Depending on the seriousness of the concussion, this can be anything from a few days to a few weeks. The symptoms of concussion can also mean that there is a subdural haematoma (bleeding between the brain and the skull), as well as subarachnoid haemorrhage (bleeding on the brain’s surface). These two conditions are potentially fatal, so you must monitor yourself or whoever had the concussion for a number of symptoms. If they experience these symptoms, you must seek medical treatment immediately. These serious signs of concussion are:
• Confusion
• Drowsiness for a period longer than an hour
• Difficulties in speech
• Balance disruption
• Headaches that persist

Concussion Outlook
Concussions sound more frightening and dangerous than they actually are. It is very rare for longer term problems to appear as a result of a concussion. However, if concussions happen more regularly, there is some evidence to suggest that it can cause chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is a form of dementia. This is also known as boxer’s brain, because many boxers experience regular concussions.

There is also a syndrome known as PCS (post-concussion syndrome), where people experience post concussion symptoms for several months, for no apparent reason.

Who Is at Risk of Concussions?
The vast majority of concussions happen in children up to the age of 14. The two most common reasons for concussions in this age group are cycling and sporting. In adults, the main reasons for concussions include falls and accidents in cars or other motor vehicles. It is also very common for concussions to happen in athletes, particularly in full contact sports as well as rugby and football. This is why concussion prevention is very important, for instance by wearing helmets.

Test Yourself
It is possible to do a concussion test at home, which will tell you the concussion grades and whether or not you need to seek medical attention. It is vital that you request somebody to perform this test for you, however. Firstly, with a brain concussion, you may struggle to complete the test appropriately. Secondly, if you have a severe concussion, you will need someone to take you to the nearest Accident & Emergency department. Also remember that when you test concussion online, you are not receiving a true medical diagnosis.

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