View Full Version : Treating a Concussion in the 19th cent.

09-03-2012, 12:23 AM
I have a character who has definitely suffered a concussion in 1801. How would a physician have treated this? Sewn the wound or not? Would the patient have been bled or just given laudanum and instructions to be woken up every few hours?

Any help is appreciated!

09-03-2012, 01:48 AM
1. Concussion can occur with or without an external wound present. If there is a bleeding wound, the physician of 1801 would treat it same as any other wound (i.e. if it's big, get a surgeon to stitch it up, if it's small just stop the bleeding & bandage it).

2. As for the concussion per se, it would be treated symptomatically. Laudanum for headache & nausea, perhaps; bleeding, probably unlikely unless there's fever also present. Woken up every few hours is a relatively modern approach, not very likely to occur to anyone in 1801.

09-03-2012, 09:51 AM
Thank you benbenberi! I found myself in the middle of the scene, realizing that I wasn't sure what 1801 medical protocol would have been. I read that they only considered someone concussed if they actually lost consciousness.

09-03-2012, 09:53 AM

09-03-2012, 12:05 PM
Unless your character was particularly well off and pampered I doubt if a physician would have treated it at all. Any wound (and as benbenberi said, concussion does not imply a wound) would only be of the skin, and the nausea, headaches, dizziness, 'stars before the eyes' etc. would have been seen as entirely natural consequences of receiving a blow to the head. Sleep it off would be the line, I should imagine.

09-03-2012, 04:56 PM
I read that they only considered someone concussed if they actually lost consciousness.

Correct. Into the 19c "concussion" described a set of functional symptoms, with loss of consciousness being the main one. If you didn't lose consciousness, by definition there was no concussion.

09-04-2012, 04:17 AM
Awesome. Thank you guys. Everything I'd searched described Victorian methods. My character is the daughter of a wealthy merchant. She was thrown from her pony. It's a touch too Gone With the Wind for me and may not survive into the next draft, but I figured I should get the treatment correct for now.