Secondary Injury Prevention: Understanding Concussions

Ohio AgrAbility Fact Sheet Series
AEX-981.11
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Date: 
01/26/2012
S. Dee Jepsen, Assistant Professor, State Safety Leader, Agricultural Safety and Health, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University
Kent McGuire, Ohio AgrAbility Program Coordinator, Agricultural Safety and Health, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University

Concussions are a mild form of traumatic brain injury, however, they are the most common traumatic injury to the brain. Concussions are usually caused by a bump or blow to the head. Most people associate concussions with athletics or sporting events, but due to the nature of the work, farmers are at a high risk of this form of traumatic brain injury. Slips, trips, and falls are a common hazard that can cause a concussion. Additional risk factors include working with livestock, working with heavy tools and equipment, making repairs in tight spaces or under raised equipment, and working in an ever-changing environment with low visibility.

Most concussions occur without loss of consciousness. Individuals of any age can obtain a concussion. Children and teens are more likely to get a concussion, and they take longer to recover than adults. Older adults may be more susceptible to additional health-related problems after a concussion. Recognition and proper response can help prevent further injury or even death.

In the event of suffering trauma or a blow to the head, advise family members or co-workers of the injury. Signs and symptoms of a concussion can show up right after the injury, or may not be present until days or weeks after the incident. If signs and symptoms start to present themselves after even mild head trauma, seek medical attention.

What should I do if I think I have a concussion?

Recognition and proper management of concussions when they first occur can help prevent further injury or even death.

1. Seek medical attention.

A health-care professional will be able to decide the severity of the concussion. Never ignore a bump or blow to the head even if you feel fine. Tell family members or co-workers of the incident. Advise the doctor of the cause of the injury and force of the hit or blow to the head, any loss of consciousness, and any memory loss or seizures immediately following the injury.

2. Give yourself time to get better.

Your brain needs time to heal if you have had a concussion. You are much more likely to have a second concussion with a blow to the head while your brain is still healing. A repeat concussion before the brain recovers from the first can slow recovery or increase the likelihood of having long-term problems including brain damage. It is important to rest until you get approval from a medical professional before returning back to farm activities.

Symptoms reported by the victim Signs observed by family or co-workers
• Headache or "pressure" in head 
• Nausea or vomiting 
• Balance problems or dizziness 
• Double or blurry vision 
• Sensitivity to light 
• Sensitivity to noise 
• Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy 
• Concentration or memory problems
• Confusion 
• Does not "feel right"
• Appears dazed or stunned 
• Is confused about work processes 
• Forgets instructions 
• Is unsure of surroundings 
• Moves clumsily 
• Answers questions slowly 
• Loses consciousness (even briefly) 
• Shows behavior or personality changes 
• Can't recall events prior to hit or fall 
• Can't recall events after hit or fall

Preventing a concussion

To reduce the risk of head trauma and prevent a concussion consider these recommendations:

  • Follow proper techniques and manufacturers' guidelines when making repairs.
  • Avoid working on equipment where loose parts or tools are positioned directly above your head.
  • Frequently monitor your surroundings during work processes, especially in low-light conditions.
  • Be observant to what is above and beside you.
  • Stay clear of areas where materials or debris may be projected or thrown.
  • Be aware of wall protrusions or low clearance obstructions.
  • Maintain three points of contact (1 hand/2 feet) or (2 hands/1 foot) to prevent falls when mounting or dismounting equipment, ladders, and elevated surfaces.
  • Use proper handling techniques when working with aggressive or defensive livestock.
  • Use proper Personal Protective Equipment, including head protection when appropriate.

Acknowledgments

This fact sheet was reviewed by Karen Mancl, PhD, Professor, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, The Ohio State University; and Pat Luchkowsky, Director of Public Affairs, Easter Seals of Ohio.

References

Heads Up: Concussion in Youth Sports. (2007). Fact sheet. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. cdc.gov/headsup/youthsports/index.html.

McCrory, P., Collie, A., Anderson, V., & Davis, G. (2004). Can we manage sport related concussion in children the same as in adults? British Journal of Sports Medicine.


About AgrAbility Based Fact Sheets
These fact sheets were developed to promote success in agriculture for Ohio's farmers and farm families coping with a disability or long-term health condition. AgrAbility offers information and referral materials such as this fact sheet, along with on-site assessment, technical assistance, and awareness in preventing secondary injuries. Fact sheets were developed with funding from NIFA, project number OHON0006.

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