Understanding the signs and symptoms of a concussion can help you or someone you are with to seek needed medical care in the event of an injury. Emergency departments are open 24/7 for proper evaluation and urgent care when a concussion occurs.It’s important not to delay treatment. If you or a family member show signs of trauma an early diagnosis can provide a better overall outcome.
Symptoms of concussions may present differently for everyone, depending on the severity. Most concussions are not life-threatening. It’s important to know the signs and to seek medical treatment for evaluation and care. Below are the common signs of concussion to look for in yourself and in others.
Concussion Signs Observed
- Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall
- Appears dazed or stunned
- Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Loses consciousness (even briefly)
- Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
Concussion Symptoms Reported
- Headache or “pressure” in head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision
- Bothered by light or noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
- Confusion, or concentration or memory problems
- Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”
Causes of Concussion
Concussions occur when an impact causes the brain to hit the side of the skull. As a result, soft tissues can be damaged and cerebrospinal fluid may leak. Common incidents that can cause concussions include:
- Falling with impact to head
- Getting hit by a force to the head (especially in sports)
- Whiplash injury in car accidents
- Blast injuries
- Injury from rapid acceleration or deceleration
Severe cases may also lead to skull fracture. These types of injuries can be more dangerous, as jagged bones may pierce the brain. In other instances, the object of impact may also pierce the skull. These injuries are serious and require immediate medical attention.
When to See a Doctor
A concussion usually results in a quick and complete recovery. However, some people can experience symptoms for several weeks before improving. If you or a family member experience any of the symptoms below, it’s important to see medical attention urgently.
- Headache gets worse or does not go away
- Slurred speech
- Loss of coordination
- Nausea or repeated vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to wake up
- Symptoms have worsened at any time
- Symptoms have not subsided after 10-14 days
- History of multiple concussions
In most cases, concussions heal quickly. In rare cases, people who suffer a concussion can develop bleeding or blood clots that can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above or are unsure about your symptoms, do not delay evaluation and treatment.
How Huntington Park Hospital Emergency Room Treats Concussions
If you suspect a concussion, it’s important to not drive to the emergency room. Brain injuries can cause impairment, making it unsafe to drive. If you are with someone that goes unconscious after a concussion, call 911 immediately. Paramedics can offer preliminary diagnosis and safe transportation to the emergency room.
Emergency departments prioritize visits based on the severity of your condition. Upon arriving in the emergency department, you will meet with a triage nurse who will help determine the level of trauma and place you in order to see the doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
When meeting with the emergency room physician, they will likely go through a medical history and ask you about your symptoms. A physical exam will be performed to evaluate your head injury and assess your level of impairment. To help determine the severity of your concussion, your emergency department physician may also order testing. These may include:
- Neurological test– Neurological examinations assess the sensory neuron and motor responses to determine whether the nervous system is impaired. These tests also evaluate hearing, speech, vision, coordination, balance, changes in mood, and other mental abilities.
- CT scan– CT scans use computerized x-rays to provide images of the brain and can detect bleeding or swelling.
- MRI scan– Magnetic Resonance Imaging uses magnetic energy instead of radiation to provide detailed pictures of the brain.
Treatment for a concussion depends on the severity of your symptoms and findings from your exam and imaging tests. Most concussions can be healed at home with conservative approaches. However, serious cases may require surgery to address internal bleeding, swelling, and other serious injuries of the brain.
If your concussion does not require hospitalization, your doctor will give instructions for returning home and recommend monitoring of your symptoms. If your symptoms should worsen within the next 24 to 72 hours, it is recommended to seek further medical attention. Medications may be administered to help alleviate pain.
Upon returning home, it is generally recommended to rest. Even after your symptoms have subsided, the brain continues to heal. For the brain to heal quickly, physical and cognitive rest is essential.
This often includes avoiding the use of electronics, looking at bright lights, and doing any strenuous activity. Your doctor will also recommend not driving, as impairment may affect your ability to drive safely.
It’s important to note the emergency rooms are designed to stabilize conditions and not provide long-term care. After any visit to the emergency department, you should always follow up with your primary care doctor for evaluation and treatment.
Contact Us Today
People who suffer concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries return to normal within a week or two. Others, however, may suffer long-term issues as a result of severe damage to the brain and surrounding tissue. Chances of a good recovery improve the sooner a person is diagnosed.
Community Hospital of Huntington Park’s emergency department is open 24 hours, seven days a week for fast and efficient care. On-site labs, pharmacy, and advanced radiology equipment enable us to provide thorough and comprehensive care in one place.
For questions about our Huntington Park hospital emergency room services and treatment of concussion, please call (323) 583-1931.