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Concussion

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

A concussion is injury to the tissue or blood vessels of the brain. It is also called a closed head injury or mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI). A concussion is usually caused by a bump or blow to the head from a fall, a motor vehicle crash, or a sports injury. Sometimes being forcefully shaken may cause a concussion. A concussion changes how the brain works and should be taken seriously.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • Rarely, some people may develop post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Symptoms of PCS may not start for several weeks or months after an injury, and usually go away over time. Some people may need further treatment. You may have symptoms, such as a headache or vision changes, with PCS. You may also become anxious, depressed, have difficulty managing anger, or have problems with your memory.

  • You may also have had other injuries at the same time as the concussion, like a neck or face injury. The longer you were unconscious, the more serious the concussion may be. Each additional concussion you have may increase your risk for long-lasting problems. These problems include poor coordination, or trouble thinking or concentrating. Having repeated concussions can be life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Rest:

You may need to rest after a concussion. Ask your caregiver when you can return to regular activities.

Tests:

You may need one or more of the following tests. The results of these tests help caregivers plan the best way to treat you.

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.

  • Neurologic exam: This is also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show caregivers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Caregivers will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.

  • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray uses a computer to take pictures of your infected skin area. The pictures may show if the infection has spread to other areas. You may be given dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish. You may also be allergic to the dye.

  • MRI: During the MRI, pictures are taken of your head. An MRI may be used to look at the brain, muscles, joints, bones, or blood vessels. You will need to lay still during a MRI. Never enter the MRI room with an oxygen tank, watch, or any other metal objects. This can cause serious injury.

  • C-spine x-rays: You may need cervical spine (c-spine) x-rays to check for broken bones or other problems in your neck. Several pictures may be taken of the bones in your neck. These neck bones are called vertebrae.

  • Skull x-rays: If caregivers think you may have broken bones in the head or face, skull x-rays may be done. Several pictures may be taken of your head. These x-rays can help caregivers find broken bones in your head and face.

Treatments:

  • Ice: Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover the ice pack with a towel and place it on your head for 15 to 20 minutes every hour for up to 2 days.

  • You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Concussion (Inpatient Care)

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