Signs of a concussion after a head injury

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It’s no secret that it’s that time of year where roads and sidewalks are slippery. This calls for more caution when getting around.

“With the freezing rain, the snow, and the ice, it is very common for a patient to come in after a fall. What we would call a minor head trauma,” said Dr. William Gaetano a Medical Doctor with the Mohawk Valley Health System.

When someone comes into the emergency room with a head injury, Gaetano said it’s important to check for neurological symptoms. 

“So is the patient confused, groggy, did they have a loss of consciousness? But that does not always need to be present for a diagnosis of a concussion,” Gaetano said

Other red flags include retrograde amnesia, accompanied with nausea and vomiting. But it’s not limited at that. Problems with your vision may also occur after a hard hit. 

“So, double vision, blurry vision, the patient may say they see stars and have a headache either on the side of the injury where they hit their head or on the other side,” Gaetano said

As for a diagnosis, there are image testing options, like an MRI and CT scan. But Gaetano said usually, these results will come back negative. Because of this, they rely more on physical testing. 

“We’ll look in the eyes to make sure the eyes are reacting to light. Look in the ears to make sure there’s no blood behind the tympanic membranes, as well. We will test some reflexes in cranial nerves to make sure neurologically the patient is in tact,”  Gaetano said.

And while it may mean a day in the emergency room, no matter how large or small the head injury, you should always go to the nearest medical facility for help. 

“I always tell patients to air on the side of caution. There’s always people in the er, 24/7, 365,” Gaetano said.

Gaetano said symptoms of a concussion can last one to three weeks and it’s important for the patient to get mental and cognitive rest during that time. 

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