Monday, 10 December 2012

Concussion – Signs and Symptoms

It is scary for any parent to watch their child fall down, particularly if that fall involves a bump on the head too.

A concussion is a minor trauma to the brain that is caused by a sudden impact or change in direction which causes the brain to move within the skull. During a concussion the brain changes position momentarily, this movement disrupts the part of the brain known as the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS is an important portion of the brain that helps us regulate our sense of awareness and consciousness and acts as a filter to help us ignore irrelevant stimuli.

The majority of head bumps will not require medical attention, just a hug and a kiss from mummy. But occasionally a bump on the head might cause a concussion. It is important to know what to look out for and know when emergency medical attention is required.

Every child is different and so will display a different combination of symptoms. The important thing to remember with a concussion is that symptoms may not develop for a number of days and so it is important to observe your child and know what you are looking for.

The main thing to observe is any changes in behaviour, such as:

• Appears dazed or stunned

• Answers questions really slowly

• Repeats Questions

• Can’t recall events prior to or after the bump

• Losses consciousness for even a short period of time

• Any type of personality change – low mood, hyper mood

• Forgets planned activities

Ask your child questions to find out if he is feeling any of the following symptoms:

• Headache or the feeling of pressure his head

• Feeling dizzy or struggling to balance

• Feeling constantly tired or lethargic

• Blurry or double vision

• New sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises

• Numbness or tingling

• Feeling like everything is moving slowly or hazy

The majority of concussions do not require emergency medical attention but if you spot any of the following symptoms or a worsening of the following, contact medical personnel immediately:

• One Pupil larger than the other

• Severe drowsiness or cannot be woken

• A severe headache that cannot be controlled using Paracetamol

• Weakness or numbness and decreased coordination

• Repeated vomiting

• Slurred speech

• Convulsions or Seizures

• Difficulty recognising familiar people or things

• Increased confusion, restlessness or agitation

• Unusual behaviour or mental confusion

• Loss of consciousness

• Fluids coming from ears or nose

• Deafness is one or both ears

• Any changes in sleep pattern – difficulty getting to sleep, sleeping more than usual, difficulty waking up

Concussions are scary but the treatment for a mild concussion is very basic.

• Ice the bump to relieve some pain

• Take Paracetamol to relieve the pain – avoid Ibuprofen and aspirin with head injuries

• Plenty of rest – try and encourage your child to sit calmly and avoid physical activities during his recovery

• Avoid PE and other sporting activities

• Advice teachers and carers that your child has a concussion and what symptoms you are observing

• You can allow your child to sleep but just ensure you check on him regularly (every 4 hours) to ensure he is ok and is waking easily

The old saying “boys will be boys” is extremely pertinent when it comes to head injuries. Children are less coordinated than adults and do not assess danger the way we do. They jump off things, they fall down, they climb too high and get stuck, but isn’t this the best part of being a kid. They are amazing at falling down and getting straight back up again.

As a parent you know when your child is out of sorts, if you feel like a bump on the head might be more than a little bump, get advice from a medical professional. It’s always better to ask.

This guest post was written by Vicki Power on behalf of Pannone are a law firm that specialise in Person Injury

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