Cerebral Compression - Sports Injury

Cerebral compression is when there is a build up of pressure on the brain which gradually deteriorates your level of consciousness. It is normally caused by a swelling of the brain tissue or from an accumulation of blood between the skull and the brain, creating the pressure.  Whilst cerebral compression can occur for a number of reasons, such as after an infection, brain tumour or stroke, it is most commonly the result of a head injury.

The difficulty with cerebral compression is that it does not always immediately follow the head injury. Symptoms can occur from between a just a few hours to even several days after the injury has happened. If you have recently suffered a head injury it is always worthwhile seeing a doctor since they will be able to determine if there is any underlying threat of more severe damage.

Recognising Cerebral Compression

It is easier recognising the symptoms or warning signs of cerebral compression in others than in yourself, simply because pressure on the brain is disorientating and can cause confusion, often altering your sense of rationality. If you suspect that you might be suffering after a head injury, the best course of action is to seek some form of help immediately since they will be able to monitor you better than you will be able to monitor yourself.

When looking for symptoms of cerebral compression in others, the most obvious indication is if their level of response deteriorates. You should aim to get them to hospital as soon as possible, especially if they become unconscious. There are other symptoms which can be an indicator of cerebral compression, many of these are similar to symptoms of concussion, but will usually present themselves more extremely:

  • Intense/major headache
  • Increasingly slow, loud/deep breathing
  • Strong but slowed pulse
  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Pupils differ in size or dilation
  • Flushed/red face and a high or rising temperature
  • Loss of strength, feeling or movement down one side of the face or body
  • Noticeable or dramatic change in behaviour, i.e. disorientation or irritability

Again, if you spot any of these symptoms in someone who has recently suffered from a head injury it is important to call an ambulance straight away. Cerebral compression is one of the most threatening consequences of a head injury and quick response treatment is necessary to prevent any excessive, long term or permanent damage to the brain.

Managing Cerebral Compression

If your believe you are suffering from cerebral compression then try your best to stay conscious until help arrives. Try to stray comfortable and reasonably alert, as falling unconscious could only cause further difficulties. Someone is likely to notice your situation and come to your aid, but if you feel sure that you are strong and able enough to contact an ambulance yourself then do so. Ideally stay where you are and wait for help since it is likely that your consciousness is impaired and you decision making skills could be affected. It is best if you avoid putting yourself at any kind of risk and instead call or wait for aid.

If you have encountered someone who has suffered a head injury and suspect them of having from cerebral compression then you may need to take action to support them depending on their state of consciousness. If they are conscious and fairly alert then make sure they are comfortable and do your best to reassure them whilst waiting for professional first aid to arrive. Keep talking to them and engage with them whilst keeping an eye on their state: their pulse, breathing, and level of response. Make sure they are comfortable and supported so that if they do fall unconscious they will obtain further damage. If they are already unconscious when you find them then the first thing to ascertain is whether or not they are breathing. If they are, leave them in the position that allows them to do so. If not, check that their airways are clear by applying pressure to their jaw and forcing their mouth open. If you feel able to do so then try to aid their breathing with chest compressions, applying slow, rhythmic pressure to the chest, and offer rescue breaths if necessary.

Taking quick action could mean saving a person’s life, so it is important to help where you can. However, these are only measures to take whilst waiting for professional help. If there is a trained first aider present then refer the casualty to them, or contact an ambulance whilst waiting with the casualty. Cerebral compression is a serious condition and will need specialist medical attention as quickly as possible.