Guide for Head Injuries

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a disturbance in the function of the brain caused by a direct or indirect force to the head. It results in a variety of symptoms, including headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, vision problems, hearing problems or ringing in the ears, confusion, difficulty concentrating, drowsiness and fatigue, and feeling emotional or irritable.

Apply ice packs to the injured area to reduce swelling and ease the pain. You may use acetaminophen, such as Tylenol or Panadol, to relieve a mild headache or pain from the injury. Do NOT use aspirin.

Signs to watch for:

Problems could arise over the first 24-48 hours. You should not be left alone and must call 911 or go to the hospital immediately if you:

  • Have a headache that gets worse
  • Are very drowsy or can't be awakened
  • Can't recognize people or places
  • Have repeated vomiting
  • Behave unusually or seem confused or are very irritable
  • Have seizures (arms and legs jerk uncontrollably)
  • Have weak or numb arms or legs
  • Are unsteady on your feet
  • Have slurred speech

What can I expect?

Concussion typically results in the rapid onset of short-lived impairment that resolves spontaneously over time.

You will need to rest until you are fully recovered. This means resting your body and your mind, (including avoiding videogames, computers, TV and loud or raucous music).

Use only acetaminophen to relieve pain. Do not use any other nonprescription nor prescription medicines for pain without approval from your healthcare provider.

Do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. Alcohol and illegal drugs can slow your recovery and increase your risk of a second head injury.