Diagnosing a Head Injury

Athletes are at the highest risks for repetitive head injury. According to sports medicine specialists, while repeated blows to the head may not immediately have observable effects, the risks for brain injury and/or illness are already high.

Indeed, the importance of doctor consultations at any of our clinics, such as the one in Garden Grove by Stanton, Santa Ana, and Westminster areas, are essential for athletes at risk.

The brain is considered as one of the most fragile organs in the body, mainly because of its location and protection structure. While the brain is cushioned by the cerebrospinal fluid and meninges, as well as protected by the skull, any blunt force trauma to the head can cause injury in two sites – the site of impact, known as the coup injury, and the site opposite the site of impact, called the contrecoup injury. The double whammy, so to speak, can make even a single blow to the head fatal.

Fortunately, the force of the blow can be dissipated by the use of protective equipment, such as a helmet, and by neck muscle strength. Emphasis must still be made that blows to the head should still be consulted with a physician to rule out concussions and the like.

During the diagnosis phase, the affected athletes may not be the best source of information about the history of the head blow because of their confusion or slower mental ability. Others, such as coaches, teammates, and even observers, can be asked about the history.

In terms of symptoms, the head injury can be manifested by the following:

  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Memory impairment
  • Dizziness
  • Sensory loss
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Hemiplegia
  • Diplopia
  • Impairment of hand-eye coordination
  • Fatigue
  • Photophobia and/or phonophobia

Aside from the observation of symptoms, doctors will also conduct physical evaluations of the patients. These physical evaluations are necessary for three reasons: to recognize the head injury; to determine the necessity for immediate transport to a hospital; and to make a decision about a return-to-activity timeline. Even on site, doctors will also perform emergency management procedures including assessment of the athletes’ breathing, airway, and circulation.

A brief neurologic examination will also be performed, a must before moving the affected athlete to determine that his spine is stable. The exam can include tests for verbal quality, memory, visual and motor findings, tone and reflexes, and sensory abnormalities, among others.

Do you suspect a head injury? Don’t dismiss it just because there are little to no symptoms! Visit any of the Healthpointe clinics, such as the one at La Mirada by Whittier, La Habra, Norwalk, Cerritos, Buena Park, and Santa Fe Springs, immediately.

About Healthpointe:

Healthpointe is a leading multidisciplinary healthcare organization offering a full range of medical services in practice locations throughout Southern California (Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County). Healthpointe has locations situated in over 10 cities in Southern California including La Mirada, which is conveniently located by Whittier, La Habra, Norwalk, Cerritos, Buena Park, and Santa Fe Springs. As a highly regarded musculoskeletal group, we have a personal investment in the highest level of service, and we are proud of our record of excellence over the last four decades with private patients, injured workers, urgent care, personal injuries, and professional and non-professional athletes. Leading our organization is a dynamic team of healthcare professionals who continually strive to be at the forefront of medical innovation and healthcare service delivery. For more information, a complete list of services, and Healthpointe locations, visit Healthpointe.net.

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