What you should do if you think you or someone you know has had a concussion
A concussion, also known as mild traumatic brain injury, is caused by either a direct or indirect force to the head. Usually, someone other than the injured person identifies the problem. If you, or someone you know, may have had an injury to the head – potentially a concussion – seek care as soon as possible. And, if symptoms increase over a period of minutes to hours, go to the nearest Emergency Department immediately.
The usual “red flags” to skip outpatient care and go directly to a hospital’s Emergency Department include severe and worsening headache, worsening coordination/balance problems, visual problems, unable to recognize people/places, slurred speech, vomiting repeatedly, worsening nausea, more confusion, seizures or any change in strength or sensation to the face, or an arm or leg.
How we diagnose a concussion
We diagnose a concussion based on international standards of how concussion symptoms manifest. We clarify the diagnosis using computerized and non-computer-based clinical tools. One of the non-computerized tools we use is a questionnaire called the SCAT-5 and Child SCAT-5, short for Sport Concussion Assessment Tool, now in its 5th edition. It allows providers to identify a concussion shortly after an incident.
Are concussions handled the same for children and adults?
Children are not small adults thus, head injury evaluations are different. Providers seek history from witnesses and questions are age-appropriate. When it comes to implementing recommendations and follow-up care, parents must take the lead and help children follow the protocols.