Head injuries must be treated seriously due to the possibility of damage to the brain. Oftentimes, the damage might not be evident even hours after the injury occurs.
Head injuries such as a concussion, skull fracture, brain compression is difficult to determine for a first aider.
What are the indications?
- Altered state of consciousness that often deteriorates over time
- Blurred or double vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Thumping or pounding headache
- Loss of coordination and balance
- Altered sensation in the fingers or down to one side of the body
- Noisy breathing
- Loss of short-term memory
- Drainage of fluid from the nose or ear
- History of sustaining a direct blow to the head
Assessment of the individual
- Check the conscious state of the individual.
- If not completely conscious, put the individual on the side in a supported position.
- Assess if the airways are clear and for any indications of life every few minutes.
- If the individual is conscious, assist the individual in a comfortable position to rest.
- Oftentimes, victims of head injuries might become agitated. This is vital to call family members to help reassure the individual.
Once these measures are carried out, call for emergency assistance.
Proper care measures until the arrival of the ambulance
- If there is any wound, it should be covered with a sterile dressing.
- In case of any drainage from the nose or ears, you should cover the area with a sterile dressing.
Monitor the state of the individual
- Do not leave the individual alone and continuously monitor the breathing and level of consciousness.
- If there are other injuries, they should be checked and properly cared for.
Keeping the body warm
The individual should be covered with a blanket or clothing to protect against extremes in temperature. Even if the individual has fully recovered, a doctor should still assess the individual. In some cases, detecting any serious head injuries might be delayed for up to 24 to 48 hours due to the steady increase in the swelling or bruising around the brain.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on head injuries is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage head injuries, register for a first aid and CPR course with Saskatoon First Aid.