After Head Injury, Monitor For Signs of Serious Brain Injury Requiring Immediate Hospitalization

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  Lindsey Straus Lindsey Straus   IN: Concussion Essentials   Tagged: ,  
  • Lindsey Straus

    Author: Lindsey Straus is an award-winning youth sports journalist, practicing attorney, and has been Senior Editor of SmartTeams since its launch as MomsTEAM in August 2000. She can be reached at lbartonstraus@MomsTEAM.com.

  • Lindsey Straus

After Head Injury, Monitor For Signs of Serious Brain Injury Requiring Immediate Hospitalization

While most sport-related concussions are mild, the potential always exists for a more serious, life-threatening head injury, such as bleeding between the skull and the brain.

Experts recommend that an athlete not be left alone after suffering a head injury and regularly and closely monitored for signs that require immediate hospitalization.  

Some experts recommend monitoring for the first 24 to 48 hours, while others use a cut-off of four hours of frequent observation, with a check at least every 15 minutes, after which the athlete can be allowed to rest.  

Experts unanimously agree that an athlete must go to a hospital emergency room  if he or she:

  • Has a headache that gets worse and does not go away
  • Has persistent or increasing neck pain
  • Is very drowsy or can’t be awakened (woken up)
  • Can’t recognize people or places
  • Has nausea or vomiting
  • Behaves unusually, seems confused, or is irritable
  • Becomes increasingly restless or agitated
  • Experiences convulsions or seizures (arms and legs jerk uncontrollably)
  • Has weakness, numbness or tingling in arms, legs or face
  • Is unsteady walking or standing 
  • Has slurred speech
  • Has one pupil which is larger than the other
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Will not stop crying/cannot be consoled
  • Has difficulty understanding speech or directions, or
  • Their symptoms get worse.

The advice to parents: err on the side of caution.


Sources:

Sports Concussion Assessment Tool 3. Br J Sports Med 2013;47:259.

Child SCAT-3. Br J Sports Med 2013;47:267.

Kutcher JS & Gerstner J. Back in the Game: Why Concussion Doesn’t Have To End Your Athletic Career. (Oxford University Press, New York 2016).

 

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