My friend Griffin sat on the gym’s hardwood floor and leaned against the bleachers. My girlfriend, a nursing student, was the most qualified medical care person available, so I let her do the talking.
“Do you know where you are?” she said.
“Yes,” Griffin said, looking off in the distance.
But then Megan increased the difficulty of the questions, asking what day it was. Griffin, a history buff, was stumped, even though it was the anniversary of a “day that lives in infamy.” We also would have accepted “Wednesday,” but he didn’t know that either.
Holding a paper towel above his right eye to stop the bleeding, Griffin complained of blurred vision, and repeated himself—asking over and over whether his head-first dive for a loose ball was “a good play” (given the outcome, it was not).
Griffin had suffered a concussion after smacking his head twice—first when the back of his head struck the knee of an opposing player and much harder hit when he face-planted into the court—while diving for the basketball during a rec league game last week.
Unconscious for just a second or two, he tried to stand after the collision but lost his balance and stumbled off the court like a drunk leaving a bar. The game was stopped; Megan attended to him while a teammate called an ambulance. That’s when Griffin revealed the severity of his injury: He couldn’t recall his address.
The above image demonstrates primary and secondary impact, and Griffin likely sustained each type twice, since he hit his head twice.
The concussion section of the Dana Guide to Brain Health outlines the appropriate steps for reacting with someone who has sustained a head injury. I read it again after last week’s incident, and was relieved to confirm we handled Griffin’s injury correctly. He was conscious, had no trouble breathing, and didn’t vomit, meaning he had not sustained “severe” head trauma (though all head injuries should be considered “serious”). He was taken to the hospital where he was examined by a doctor, who decided it was not necessary for Griffin to stay the night.
Megan and I waited for Griffin’s brother to arrive at the hospital before we left, and he made sure Griffin got home and did not spend the night alone. That last bit is important: just because the injured person is no longer incoherent, he still should be monitored by someone for at least the next 24 hours.
For days following the injury, Griffin had a headache, also to be expected. Once the stitches dissolve—he needed them above his eye and in the back of his head, behind his ear—and the bruises fade, I’m glad to report that he should have no noticeable reminders of the injury. Though it wouldn’t hurt if he didn’t forget what happened. If nothing else, it may prevent him from diving head-first for a loose ball when his team is already down 15 points.