Do I Have a Concussion? What to Do After a Head Injury
Concussions are brain injuries caused by blows to the head and neck area or jolts to the body that may cause rapid motion of the brain and subsequent injury. In a concussion, the brain is jarred by impact in a way that causes it to bang against the inside of the skull hard enough that the protective fluids surrounding the brain cannot provide enough cushion to prevent injury.
This can result in a variety of symptoms including dizziness, amnesia, headache or nausea, and in some cases, you could even lose consciousness. But the symptoms of concussions can be tricky to diagnose, so it’s important to take the right steps.
If you have suffered a blow to the head and think you might have a concussion, here are some steps to take to get down the path to recovery:
Get to a Doctor
After any head injury, especially if you’re experiencing concussion-like symptoms, it’s important to see a medical professional and get a diagnosis. In the case of mild symptoms, getting to an urgent care center or other sports medicine professional is a good solution, but if you’ve lost consciousness or have other severe symptoms like intense headache, amnesia, seizure or vomiting, you should get to a hospital emergency room right away.
Getting lots of rest is critically important to recovery. Activities like watching TV, sending emails or texting can all be taxing on the brain and do not constitute rest, no matter how simple they may seem. Like any other part of the body, the brain needs time to recover after an injury, and any excess stimulation can delay the process.
After concussion diagnosis, your doctor may request a follow-up appointment to ensure you are recovering well. And even if you don’t have a follow up scheduled, it’s important to see a doctor if your symptoms persist. Most mild-to-moderate concussions heal within 7-10 days. If you’re still not feeling right after that, you should schedule another appointment to follow up.
If there’s only one thing you take away from this post, let it be this: you can never be too careful with head injuries. When in doubt, get to a doctor as soon as possible.