Concussion - seeing stars!
head; injury; brain; skull; first aid; unconscious; coma; concussion; amnesia;
What is concussion?
Have you seen cartoons where someone is lying on the ground and there are stars circling round his or her head? That's the artist's way of showing that someone has been hit on the head.
Your head is a very important part of your body because that is where the brain is. The brain controls all the rest of your body so we need to look after it as much as possible.
The brain is made of soft tissue and the skull is hard and bony. Between the brain and the skull there is a 'cushion' of fluid which helps protect the brain.
But, if there is a sudden hard knock to the head, the brain could knock against the skull. This can bruise the brain so that it works differently for a while. This is called a concussion (say con-cush-on). There could also be some bleeding inside the brain.
Concussion can last for a moment or two, or a person could be knocked out for much longer. If someone is knocked out for a long time they are said to be in a coma.
How does it feel?
This depends on how much the brain was jolted against the skull.
A person could be:
- a bit dazed and foggy but be awake and able to move (conscious - say 'con-shus')
- unconscious (not awake or aware of where they are) for a few seconds, or minutes or longer
- feeling sick or even throwing up (vomiting)
- having headaches for a while afterwards (maybe a few hours or sometimes for many days)
- feeling faint if he or she tries to carry straight on after a blow to the head
- unable to remember things like what happened just before or after the injury or even, but not often, a person can't remember names and places. This is called amnesia (say am-nee-zia).
What you should do
If someone has banged their head hard then:
- tell the adult who is caring for you wherever you are, like your mum, dad, aunty, or your teacher if you are at school.
- if there is no-one around to help, check whether the person is in a safe place for you to help. If the person is in the middle of the road it could be unsafe for you to help. Remember that your safety comes first!
- if the person is conscious (awake) and able to move by themselves, help them move to a safe place.
- don't move the person if they are not conscious as they might have other injuries as well and this might make the injury worse.
- anyone who has concussion should be checked out by a doctor.
Protect your head
You can look after your head by:
- always wearing a helmet for riding a bike, skateboard, skates or scooter
- watching where you are going! Sometimes kids run into hard things like walls because they are all caught up in the game they are playing.
- always wearing a helmet for sports where you are batting a hard ball, like baseball, cricket or softball
- walking around swimming pools or wet areas where you could slip and fall
- wearing your seatbelt all the time in the car
- not running inside the house or school where you could bump into other people
- taking care on playground equipment and being careful of the safety of others by taking turns
- "I was playing cricket when the ball hit me. Lucky I was wearing a helmet or I could have been badly hurt." Jack
- "If someone falls in a dangerous place get help." Tyrone
- "If you bang your head don't try to move right away."
- "Watch where you are going and wipe up spills in the kitchen or other hard floors."
- "Use a tennis ball if you are playing cricket or baseball at recess or lunch and play away from others."
Dr Kim says
If you have a big bang on your head your doctor will check you out first then you may be sent to have an x-ray of your head or you may even have to go into hospital for a while.
Most times that you bump your head you may feel a bit dizzy for a while but then you will be ok again – but you may have a headache for a while. Our heads are pretty tough really. That's good, because kids seem to fall over quite a bit at times! Take care!
Why not read our topic on First aid - basic - what is it in case you are ever the only person around when someone is injured? It has information on what you can do to help someone and keep yourself safe.
Does your school run First aid programs for kids who are in year 7?
You may choose to become a volunteer first aider/cadet with St John Ambulance when you are a bit older. If you are 8 or older you could think about becoming a junior first-aider.
We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.