Health Services

Head Injuries: What to Watch for Afterward

What are the main causes of head injuries?
Head injuries are caused by a blow to the head suffered in a bicycle or motorcycle accident, falls or during a sporting event. The most common type of head injury is a concussion.

What happens after the injury?
It's normal to have a headache and nausea, and feel dizzy right after a head injury. Other symptoms include ringing in the ears, neck ache, and feeling anxious, upset, irritable, or tired.

The person who has had a head injury may also have problems concentrating, remembering things, putting thoughts together or doing more than one thing at a time. These symptoms usually go away within one or two weeks.

You should not return to any sports activities until cleared by a medical provider. If you are doing any physical activity that causes worsening headache or dizziness, you should stop that activity immediately.

Does medicine help?
The treatment for a concussion or head injury is rest. If you have a headache you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol). Always ask your health care provider before you take any medication if you've had a concussion.

What about memory loss?
It's common for someone who's had a head injury to forget the events right before, during and right after the accident. Memory of these events may never come back. Following recovery, the ability to learn and remember new things almost always returns.

Is it true that the person must be kept awake after the injury?
No. If your health care provider thinks you need to be watched this closely, you will probably need to be put in the hospital.

Sometimes, health care providers will send someone who has had a head injury home if the person with them is reliable enough to watch the injured person closely. In this case, your health care provider may ask you to wake the person frequently and ask questions such as "what's your name?" and "where are you?" to make sure everything is okay.

Get help if you notice

  • Any symptom that is getting worse, such as headaches, nausea or sleepiness
  • Nausea that doesn't go away
  • Changes in behavior, such as irritability or confusion
  • Dilated pupils (pupils that are bigger than normal) or pupils of different sizes
  • Trouble walking or speaking
  • Drainage of bloody or clear fluids from ears or nose
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs

If any of the above symptoms develop, call the health service immediately at 793-7467

If health services is closed, call:
Hahneman Family Health Center 508-334-8830 (ask for the doctor on call)
Campus Police x7575

Revised 05/05