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All You Need To Know About Head Injuries

While most head injuries are not serious, Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, says you should get medical help if you or your child have any worrisome symptoms after a head injury.

WHAT IS A CONCUSSION?

The sturdy skull and facial bones protect your most complex organ in the body – the brain. If the skull is damaged, the brain becomes more susceptible to injury. When a person receives a blow to the head, the brain moves and can collide with the skull and facial bones. This type of damage may result in brain swelling and bleeding.

 

A concussion is the most prevalent type of head injury. Loss of consciousness may or may not accompany a concussion (blackout). Typically, a momentary loss of consciousness is followed by a swift and complete recovery. However, in some cases, a concussion can be the result of a life-threatening brain injury.

 

Brain injuries are responsible for at least one death every seven minutes worldwide. It is one of the primary causes of adult mortality and disability. South Africa reports an estimated 89,000 new traumatic brain injuries annually.

WHAT CAUSES HEAD INJURIES?

Rugby has the greatest incidence of concussions among collision team sports in South Africa, with 10 to 15% of high school rugby players sustaining a concussion in any given season.

 

Although high-profile sports such as rugby receive the most attention in terms of brain injuries, it must be emphasised that concussions can occur in every sport.

 

“When evaluating any athlete who has had a collision or several injuries, a strong index of suspicion for probable head injury is essential. It has been demonstrated that gymnasts who fall and dancers whose heads accidentally touch their partners’ knees exhibit concussion symptoms. Mild traumatic brain damage can also occur in non-sporting settings,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

INITIAL CARE FOR HEAD INJURIES

If you suspect someone has a head injury, follow these steps:

 

  • Check for consciousness loss.
  • If the individual is unconscious, check his or her ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation) and call an ambulance.
  • Move the individual only if necessary.
  • Examine the individual’s mental awareness.
  • Examine the individual’s eyes.
  • Observe for vomiting.
  • The patient should be kept awake for a length of time to determine if their condition worsens.
  • Be mindful that symptoms can disappear, only to reappear and worsen later.

WHEN TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL

If a child has sustained a concussion, their condition can rapidly deteriorate, so it’s best to seek immediate medical attention.

 

Other symptoms that require immediate medical attention include chronic headaches, chronic vomiting, seizures, blood, or clear fluid discharge from the ears or nose, neck stiffness, arm or leg numbness, tingling, pins and needles, or weakness, confusion, slurred speech, or strange behaviour, hazy or double vision, a fever.

WHEN TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL

If a child has sustained a concussion, their condition can rapidly deteriorate, so it’s best to seek immediate medical attention.

 

Other symptoms that require immediate medical attention include chronic headaches, chronic vomiting, seizures, blood, or clear fluid discharge from the ears or nose, neck stiffness, arm or leg numbness, tingling, pins and needles, or weakness, confusion, slurred speech, or strange behaviour, hazy or double vision, a fever.

TREATMENT FOR BRAIN INJURY

There is no specific treatment for mild brain injuries besides rest and avoiding overexertion. Keep in mind the following:

 

  • It is typical to be unable to recall the circumstances preceding a head injury.
  • It is common to have increased fatigue.
  • Following a head injury, the brain’s recovery can be lengthy. During this time, headaches, vertigo, and mild cognitive (thinking) difficulties are prevalent.
  • Mood swings, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, and inability to do complex activities are all symptoms of impaired brain function.
  • Most individuals achieve a full recovery, and the symptoms only last a few days.
  • Some individuals experience persistent symptoms. If this is the case, consult your healthcare provider.

WHAT IS A SECOND CONCUSSION SYNDROME?

A second concussion occurs before the brain recovers from the first, typically within a short period (hours, days, or weeks). A second concussion might impede healing or increase the probability of developing long-term issues.

“The impact of the second concussion does not have to be strong to trigger second impact syndrome. A minor blow to the head, chest or back that snaps the head enough to cause the brain to move inside the skull can trigger damage,” explains Hewlett.

 

“In some cases, repeated concussions can cause cerebral oedema, lifelong brain damage, and even death, therefore it’s important to wait until you feel better before returning to your regular activities. The length of time to wait varies depending on the nature and severity of your head injury. Always consult your doctor for guidance.”

 

Learn More: Concussions – Everything You Need to Know

ABOUT AFFINITY HEALTH

Affinity Health is the leading provider of affordable medical insurance in South Africa. Members enjoy access to a network of healthcare providers. We have designed healthcare products to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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