In the event of a sudden head injury, many people don’t know how to respond. Panicking and making rash decisions can result in making the injury worse, and is just as dangerous as disregarding the injury as a mere bump on the head. Basic emergency preparedness is a life skill that can not only make you feel more calm and in control during unexpected situations, but also equip you with knowledge that could end up saving a life.
Head Injury 101
A head injury can be sustained through many means. Although we may envision them as a result of tumbling down stairs, slipping in the shower, or occurring in a car accident, head injuries can happen as suddenly and as anti-climactically as whacking your forehead on the corner of an open kitchen cabinet.
Usually head injuries can either be closed or open. The most common being a concussion. However, in the event of any head trauma, you should seek immediate medical attention. Even in closed head injuries, the brain can still hit the skull and become bruised, swollen, or even start to bleed internally.
Symptoms of a Concussion
- Unable to recall events prior to or after injury.
- Slow to respond to questions.
- Headache or feeling of pressure in head.
- Dizziness and/or balance problems.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Heightened sensitivity to light or noise.
- Feeling or behaving sluggish, groggy, hazy or foggy.
- Confusion or problems with concentrated memory.
- Repeating words or phrases and appearing disoriented.
The best thing to do in the event of a concussion is seek medical consultation. You can also keep an eye on the patient to check if their symptoms worsen over the next several hours. If symptoms to not improve, seek emergency medical care. It’s always best to see a doctor even if you just suspect a mild concussion, as a more severe head injury could be unseen.
Symptoms of Head Injury
These symptoms are indicative of a more severe head injury, and you should call 911 right away if you or someone is experiencing the following:
- Scalp wound.
- Stiff neck.
- Nasal discharge.
- Face or head fracture.
- Swelling and bruising of the eyes and face.
Head Injury Emergency Treatment
Head Injury Emergency Treatment
In the event of a more severe head injury, you should first check if the person is breathing. If they are not, make sure their airway is unobstructed and begin to administer rescue breathing and CPR.
If the person’s breathing and heart rate are stable, you should follow the protocol of a spinal injury and stabilize the head and neck by gently placing your hands on either side of the injured person’s head. If the person is choking or vomiting, roll their head, neck and body as one unit onto their side, which still protects the spine. In case of a head injury, you should always keep a patient immobile, try not to move them under any circumstances, and keep the head aligned with the spine until help arrives.
In case of bleeding, apply a cloth and pressure to the wound. If blood soaks through the first cloth, do not remove it. Apply another on top of the first as you wait for help to arrive. If you suspect a skull fracture, do not apply direct pressure to the wound or remove any visible debris. You should also not attempt to clean or wash any deep wound.
Stay with the injured person until help arrives, and do not attempt to administer any additional medical care apart from the emergency first aid reviewed in this article. If your head injury has occurred in a car accident or as a result of negligence, you may also consider contacting a personal injury professionals at Bulluck Law Group to handle the case.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer, recent graduate from the University of New Mexico, and avid runner. She loves to blog about fitness, health, home and family. Contact her via twitter @BrookeChaplan.