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Treating Sports-Related Head Injuries

September 16, 2021

Within the world of fall sports, like football, soccer, and basketball, head injuries are unfortunately common. A head injury, also called a minor traumatic brain injury, is a broad term for any injury to your brain, scalp or skull, which may be as minor as a bump on the head or as major as a skull fracture.


The treatment for a head injury depends on the cause and severity, but most sports-related head injuries are closed head injuries, meaning the skull is unbroken and no foreign objects have penetrated the brain. These injuries are typically caused by impact, either with an object or another person, sometimes resulting in a concussion.


Whether you’re a parent, coach, or just a concerned fan, head into this season with the knowledge of basic first aid for head injuries.


Symptoms of Head Injuries


Especially in the case of a concussion, it’s possible to have a head injury without realizing it. If you suspect you or a teammate have a head injury, look for these symptoms in the minutes, hours, and days following the accident.


Symptoms of mild head injuries include:


  • Bruise on the scalp
  • Shallow cut on the scalp
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to noise and/or light
  • Fatigue


In addition to the above, symptoms of potentially serious head injury include:


  • Open wound on the scalp or head
  • Unconsciousness
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Loss of short-term Memory
  • Difficulty walking
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting


First Aid for Head Injuries


If a teammate or player has a head injury, the first step to getting them help is preventing further injury. Take them out of the game, or, if the victim is unconscious, call for the game to stop. Either way, request medical emergency services immediately.


While you wait for help to arrive, there are a few things you can do to help prevent further injury. If the victim is conscious, make sure they stay still; if they’re unconscious, hold their head still to prevent it or their neck from moving. If there is any superficial bleeding, do your best to stop it with a clean bandage, applying pressure without moving their head.


If the victim vomits, keep their airway clear to avoid choking. You can do this whether the victim is conscious or unconscious by supporting their head and neck and gently rolling them on their side.


Until medical services arrive, observe the victim for changes in consciousness. In the event they lose consciousness and a pulse, begin CPR.


Be prepared to help your players or teammates—start the season off safely with CPR and first aid training from Specialized Health and Safety.