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Sports Injury Advice

Managing concussion

Concussion is an injury to the brain following a blow to the head. If you take part in a contact sport like rugby, or an individual sport like boxing, you may be at risk. If you think someone has concussion, check their airways and make sure they are breathing properly. They will need to be taken to a medical specialist for a proper evaluation and ongoing assessment. However, before you move them make sure they aren’t hurt in any other way such as a cervical spinal injury. The patient will need to see a physician at a local A&E department as soon as possible if they show any of the following symptoms:

  • Increasing drowsiness
  • Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
  • Confusion lasting longer than 30 minutes, or unconsciousness lasting more than one minute
  • Persistent vomiting or an increasingly painful headache.

If the patient is under 18, or if they are a haemophiliac or use blood thinners, they should go to hospital as a matter of course. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution and get the patient to hospital! Following concussion some people will have problems with post concussion syndrome. Out sports physicians are expert in dealing with this condition.

Giving first aid

As soon as you have a sports injury you can take steps to treat it by remembering the simple mnemonic: PRICE. This stands for:

Protection
It may sound obvious, but avoid any further injury by stopping what you’re doing.

Rest
Most soft tissue injuries need a period of rest for a full recovery. For example, if a leg is injured, use crutches to rest it when getting about. Don’t go back to sport until you’re fully recovered.

Ice
Cool the affected area with ice straight after the injury and during the next 24 hours. This brings down any swelling, shortening your recovery time. To cool the injury, follow these simple steps:

  • Put a towel or cloth over the injury
  • Place an ice pack onto the towel for 15 minutes
  • Remove the ice pack for 5 minutes then repeat.

DO NOT APPLY ICE DIRECTLY TO THE SKIN OR LEAVE THE ICE PACK ON FOR MORE THAN 15 MINUTES.
If you do there is a risk of frostbite.

Compression
Put a compression bandage on the affected area. This should be tight enough to reduce the swelling without hindering the blood flow. You may need to wear this for a few weeks.

Elevation
Lift the limb to bring down the swelling. Ideally you should lift it above the heart but this might be difficult to do. If your leg is injured then try to raise it above your waist. And if the injury is in the arm, place it in a sling.

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