How to treat a concussion

If this is an emergency, please call 000 immediately.

What is a concussion?

Any person who has suffered loss of consciousness or an altered state of consciousness after a blow to the head should not return to their activity (eg sport) and should see a medical practitioner urgently.

Concussion is a short-term loss of brain function following a head injury.

This guide is regularly updated and aligns with the current edition of Australian First Aid (4th edition, 7/2011)

What to do

Follow DRSABCD.

  

If the patient is conscious and no spinal injury is suspected, place the patient in a position of comfort (usually lying down) with their head and shoulders slightly raised.

Advise them to seek medical attention.

 

If the patient is unconscious and a neck or spinal injury is suspected, place the patient in the recovery position, carefully supporting the patient’s head and neck, and avoid twisting or bending during movement.

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.

 

Ensure the patient’s airway is clear and open. Keep the patient’s airway open by lifting their chin. DO NOT force if the face is badly injured.

Head injury

Control any bleeding with direct pressure at the point of bleeding. If you suspect the skull is fractured, use gentle pressure around the wound.

If blood or fluid comes from the ear, secure a sterile dressing lightly over the ear. Lie the patient on their injured side, if possible, to allow the fluid to drain.

Ensure an ambulance has been called, noting the patient’s condition so that you can report it to the paramedics.

Resources

Concussion fact sheet

Printable CPR Wallet Card

Related advice

Spinal and neck injuries

In the case of suspected neck or spinal injury, it’s imperative not to move the patient. If the patient is unconscious as a result of a head injury, you should always suspect a spinal injury.

Fainting

If someone faints, it’s important not to sit them on a chair with their head between their knees – direct the patient to lie on their back with knees raised.



DRSABCD action plan

The St John DRSABCD Action Plan is crucial in assessing whether a patient has any life-threatening conditions and if any immediate first aid is necessary.

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