Friday, 8 May 2015

Immediate recognition and treatment of head trauma

Recognising and treating head trauma quickly and efficiently can avoid lasting damage, especially in sports.

With so much focus on sports concussion, it is important that any coaching and teaching staff have the skills to recognise and immediately manage medical emergencies on the field of play.

Any form of head trauma could quickly lead to complications if left untreated or if the necessary treatment is not provided.

Conditions such as concussion, neck and head trauma and fractures can have differing and potentially fatal effects, so it is important to be treated quickly and professionally to avoid lasting damage.


Concussion is a common temporary injury to the brain that cannot be seen on routine X-ray or scans, affecting the way a person may think and act, along with other various symptoms.

If a person is knocked out they may have concussion. A person suffering concussion may show the following symptoms:
  • Easily distracted
  • Confused
  • Cannot remember before and/or after the injury
  • Seems slower to answer questions
A player may also experience further symptoms such as:
  • Headache and dizziness
  • Feel dazed
  • Loss or impaired vision
  • Ringing in ears
  • Drowsiness
  • Stomach pains
  • Nausea
  • Poor co-ordination
  • Inappropriate emotions (laughing, crying, angry)
  • Feeling generally unwell
Action should be taken immediately to treat the injured person. Remove the individual from play for the remainder of the day, do not leave them alone and consider spine immobilisation if necessary. Have the player assessed by a professional therapist as soon as possible.

A coach should seek immediate assistance if any of the following symptoms are experienced:
  • Drowsiness when normally awake or cannot be woken
  • Increasing headache
  • Weakness, numbness or decrease in co-ordination and balance
  • Repeated vomiting or prolonged nausea
  • Slurred speech, difficulty in speaking or understanding
  • Increasing confusion, restlessness or agitation
  • Clear fluid from ears or nose
  • Deafness in one or both ears
  • Problems with eyesight
The main element of treatment is assessment by a medical professional, rest and no exercise that could make the concussion worse.

Neck injuries

All head injuries should be treated as neck injuries unless cleared, with signs to look for including:
  • Pins and needles
  • Numbness
  • Radiating pain
  • Problems swallowing or speaking
  • Altered vision and/or hearing
  • Straw coloured liquid from nose/ears
  • Bladder bowel dysfunction
Neck injuries should be treated with caution, slowly and with professional assistance.

UCLan Physiotherapy Clinic offers workshops focusing on head trauma, highlighting resources including the Rugby Football Union's concussion awareness scheme, HEADCASE.

The workshops focus on the conditions mentioned above, providing a comprehensive and detailed review of each condition and how it is treated.

Staffed by professional physiotherapists and sports therapists, the Clinic provides services to the general public as well as staff and students of the university. They offer competitive prices alongside evidence-based clinical excellence and exceptional facilities.

The Clinic is a recognised provider of Physiotherapy services for many insurance companies including BUPA. For more details please click here or telephone 01772 894902.

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