Kids aren’t always the most graceful of people, but now and again those bumps on the noggin get a bit more serious.
That’s why if you’re a parent, even if your children don’t play sports, you should know how to identify and provide first aid to a child who has suffered a concussion.
Concussions are often associated with sports, but they’re actually one of the most common and least serious types of brain injuries. However, with most kids getting their fair share of bumps and bangs to the head, how can you tell when it’s serious? Well, let’s look at what a concussion is and how you should treat it.
A concussion is a brain injury that alters brain functions. The brain is made of soft tissue that is cushioned by spinal fluid and then protected by the skull. When a concussion happens, the impact jolts the brain, often quite literally causing it to move in your head. This can leave brain injuries including bruising, damage to blood vessels and even nerve injury.
Symptoms of a Concussion
When you have a traumatic brain injury, things don’t just bounce back to normal. The brain literally isn’t functioning like it used to, and it’s important to be able to recognise those injuries, especially in children. A person with a concussion usually experiences one or more of the following symptoms:
- A loss of consciousness
- Dizziness and nausea
- Blurred vision
- Vomiting within a few hours
- Persistent headache
- Feeling of confusion
- Loss of memory
- Abnormal response to commands
- Lack of balance
- Feeling of drowsiness
Treating A Concussion In An Unconscious Patient
The treatment plan for a concussion will depend on whether the person is conscious or unconscious. It’s important to remember that with a concussion a person may be conscious and then loose consciousness, only to regain it later. It’s important to keep a careful eye on your patient. In the case of an unconscious patient, there are a few things you need to do to make them safe.
Recovery & Airways
The first step is to place the person in the recovery position and make sure their airway is clear and open. You should carefully monitor their breathing while supporting their head and neck. As concussions can sometimes go hand in hand with spinal injuries, it’s important that the way you support the head and neck does not result in any twisting of the spine
Calling For Help
With an unconscious patient, it’s important that you ensure help is on the way. As soon as you’ve secured the person, or while you’re doing it if there is another person on hand, make sure Triple Zero (000) has been called in and informed of the condition of the individual. Keep a close eye on the patient, because the paramedics will want to know everything that has happened since the injury.
If the patient is bleeding from any wound, particularly on the head, it’s important to control that. Use clean pads or clothes to stem the flow of bleeding. However, do not put direct pressure on the skull in case there may be a depressed fracture. Also keep an eye out for blood or fluid leaking from the ears.
For A Conscious Patient
If the person who has suffered the concussion is still conscious, or has regained consciousness, they still need the attention of a first aider. Assess their injury carefully and calmly, nothing in particular any areas of bleeding and talking to them about what they can feel. If they have been unconscious for more than 1-2 minutes before they regained consciousness, it’s important that they be seen by a qualified first aider, paramedic or health professional. Even if the patient seems fine, they need to be monitored for some time after the concussion, as injuries are not always apparent straight away.
After A Concussion
The recovery time for a concussion is often longer than people think, especially in children. It’s important to remember that a concussion, although the least serious kind, is still a traumatic brain injury.
Your doctor will be able to provide you with more detailed information about what your child can and can’t do following their concussion, but as a parent you need to give them time to heal. You should also be on the lookout for serious headaches, continued vomiting, fatigue, bleeding or discharge from ears or nose, fits, problems with vision and other brain-related trauma injuries.
For More Information
All First Aid information in this article was sourced from the St. John Ambulance Australia website. You can read more about First Aid treatments and courses here. Remember that in an emergency always dial Triple Zero (000) for assistance.
SAHM takes no responsibility for any illness, injury or death caused by misuse of this information. All information provided is correct at time of publication.