ImPACT Version 4

Administration and Interpretation Manual

[Download PDF Version of the Manual]

When Is a Head Injury More Than a Concussion?

Most individuals recover relatively quickly from concussion (generally within two to three weeks). However, healthcare professionals need to be aware of the warning signs of severe injury. Any penetrating injury to the skull signifies a more severe head injury and should be treated as such. Any loss of consciousness requires a prompt and complete medical evaluation. Although headache is common following concussion, a severe headache that increases in intensity should be treated as a medical emergency. A pronounced decline in mental status in the minutes to hours following injury also is a cause for emergency care. Finally, sensory or motor loss in the limbs may indicate spinal injury or a subdural or epidural hematoma and should also be evaluated immediately. As noted throughout this manual, decisions regarding whether or not a concussion has or has not occurred, and the management of that injury always should be made by a qualified healthcare professional and should not be based on neurocognitive test results alone.

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