Let’s talk about concussions, specifically in the context of sports injuries. Imagine you’re on standby at a football game, and a 15-year-old male player takes a major hit. As the ambulance crew, your initial assessments and findings are crucial. What should you suspect? Let’s break it down.

What is a Concussion?

Concussions are common in sports, falls, assaults, and motor vehicle accidents. They occur when there’s a blow to the head or face, leading to a temporary functional change in the brain. Essentially, the brain’s functions are temporarily below their normal baseline.

How do EMS Professionals Grade Concussions?

Concussions are graded based on a few key factors, particularly whether the patient lost consciousness and how long it takes for them to return to their normal baseline.

Grade 1 (Mild Concussion)

  • Confused but no loss of consciousness.
  • Returns to baseline within 15 minutes.

Grade 2 (Moderate Concussion)

  • Confused but no loss of consciousness.
  • Takes longer than 15 minutes to return to baseline.

Grade 3 (Severe Concussion)

  • Involves a loss of consciousness.
  • This is the most severe type.

Key Signs and Symptoms of Concussions

When approaching a patient with a potential concussion, look for these key symptoms:

  • Combative behavior
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache and dizziness
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Retrograde amnesia (inability to recall events before the concussion)

EMS Management and Treatment of Concussions

As an EMS professional, your primary role is to treat the patient’s symptoms and ensure their safety. Here’s what to do:

  • Manage symptoms like nausea and photophobia.
  • Keep the patient calm and relaxed.
  • Monitor vital signs.
  • Prepare for transport to the hospital.
  • If you believe the patient has suffered a concussion, you may want to consider c-spine precautions due to the amount of force that hit the head or that the head hit.

High Index of Suspicion

Always assume the worst-case scenario until proven otherwise. If the patient shows worsening symptoms or has a severe concussion (Grade 3), they need a CT scan at the hospital.

Long-Term Considerations

Repeated concussions can lead to serious long-term issues like dementia or progressive brain deterioration. It’s crucial to monitor patients with a history of multiple concussions closely.

Understanding and managing concussions is vital for EMS professionals. By recognizing the signs, grading the severity, and providing appropriate care, you can significantly improve patient outcomes. Stay vigilant and always prioritize patient safety.