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Loss of consciousness test?
Hello,

if someone thinks he lost consciousness at one point, say during a fight because he has a memory gap that makes sense to him only if he was knocked out, is there a medical test to show that he indeed lost counsciousness? If so, how soon after the knock out would the test have to be performed?
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Hi,

There is no medical test to diagnose if a person suffered from unconsciousness in the past. It can only be elicited by questioning the patient or people around him.
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There are a couple of practical things emergency staff do when assessing the degree of head trauma a person has had following concussion - one is called GSC scale - where they ask a series of questions that reveal how orientated you are - goes up to 15. &/15 is severe, above 13 is mild and the middle scores are moderate. They usually do this asap after losing consciousness and then repeat it until you have no problems with the answers.

Then there is a PTA - postraumatic amnesia scale - whether the person lost memories and to what extent following the incident where they lost consciousness. There is a difference between losing memories of who you are and details of your life and losing memory just before being KO'd. Most people lose memories just before the incident of concussion or loss of consciousness because the event that results in them losing consciousness - the punch to the head etc - interrupts how the brain stores memories. The brain needs to pay attention to something, hold it in short term memory, link it to meaningful past experiences and then store it in long term memory to lay down a memory. When a sudden event like an accident or a punch to the head occurs this interrupts the ability of the brain to do this, so there are no memories of what happened to result in loss of consciousness.

The Dr above of course is right - only he and any witnesses will be able to describe things to help him recognise whether he lost consciousness or not - was he lying still and not moving or responding for a moment or two, when he got up or did appear ok was he initially groggy, not really well orientated, feeling a bit confused, or not with it.

Other things can cause lapses of consciousness - a form of epilepsy for example, during a fight it is most logical to think it is someone hitting him in the head, severe enough for his neck to get a bit of a whip lash effect and the brain to get a bit knocked around inside the skull. Fighting is bad for the brain for this reason - boxers often have associated problems with cognitive functioning due to repeated hits to the head even if they are not always being knocked out.
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There are a couple of practical things emergency staff do when assessing the degree of head trauma a person has had following concussion - one is called GSC scale - where they ask a series of questions that reveal how orientated you are - goes up to 15. 7/15 is severe, above 13 is mild and the middle scores are moderate. They usually do this asap after losing consciousness and then repeat it until you have no problems with the answers.

Then there is a PTA - postraumatic amnesia scale - whether the person lost memories and to what extent following the incident where they lost consciousness. There is a difference between losing memories of who you are and details of your life and losing memory just before being KO'd. Most people lose memories just before the incident of concussion or loss of consciousness because the event that results in them losing consciousness - the punch to the head etc - interrupts how the brain stores memories. The brain needs to pay attention to something, hold it in short term memory, link it to meaningful past experiences and then store it in long term memory to lay down a memory. When a sudden event like an accident or a punch to the head occurs this interrupts the ability of the brain to do this, so there are no memories of what happened to result in loss of consciousness.

The Dr above of course is right - only he and any witnesses will be able to describe things to help him recognise whether he lost consciousness or not - was he lying still and not moving or responding for a moment or two, when he got up or did appear ok was he initially groggy, not really well orientated, feeling a bit confused, or not with it.

Other things can cause lapses of consciousness - a form of epilepsy for example, during a fight it is most logical to think it is someone hitting him in the head, severe enough for his neck to get a bit of a whip lash effect and the brain to get a bit knocked around inside the skull. Fighting is bad for the brain for this reason - boxers often have associated problems with cognitive functioning due to repeated hits to the head even if they are not always being knocked out.
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