Head Injury Guidelines for Identifying and Providing First Aid

head injury guidelinesIn the spectrum of injuries that can be done to the human body fewer can be more immediately serious than a head injury. The head contains the single most important organ of the body, the brain, as well as the body’s major sense organs; the eyes, nose and ears, for one. And depending on its specific type as well as its severity, a head injury may be minor, major, or even potentially fatal. First aid is a part of medicine and many different health professionals and lay persons can learn to deliver it. Udemy  offers a first aid course that includes training in initial trauma care, basic life support and cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR, which can be crucial in treating many different types of problems, including head trauma. The world of medicine itself is extremely interesting. Udemy’s discussion of nursing can give you a quick peek into what these vital physician extenders and health care professionals do, so make sure to check it out.

It’s vital for givers of first aid as well as trained first responders such as emergency medical technicians, paramedics and nurses to recognize the signs and symptoms of head injury in a person as well to have the proper guidelines for identifying head injury and ensuring that those with head injuries get the treatment they need.

What is a Head Injury?

A head injury is any sort of trauma that involves injury to a person’s scalp, skull, or brain. Head injuries can range from a minor bump done to the soft tissue covering the skull all the way up to a serious brain injury that can be fatal, especially if it’s severe enough. A head injury also typically falls into one of two categories: closed head injuries in which no trauma or injury may even be visible, or open or penetrating head injuries that may expose the brain or skull bones to sight.

Other injuries associated with the head, but not considered “head injuries” per se, may include cuts or lacerations to the skin as well as abrasions or avulsions and similar trauma. Udemy offers several fascinating medicine-related courses, too, including an Udemy course about curing thyroid disease in a natural manner that may appeal to those desiring to learn first aid and then branch out to other medical topics from there.

Types of Head Injuries

Concussions are a very common form of sports-related head injury, and every year 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions resulting from sports activities occur. A concussion is also known as a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, and typically happens when a person’s brain is jarred or shaken sufficiently hard enough to cause it to bounce against the skull bones protecting it. Though many concussions do in fact result from sports activities others may suffer them after falling and striking their heads or even when other body areas are struck with enough force to snap the head and neck violently.

In addition to concussions, other forms of traumatic brain injury include:

  • Contusion: A contusion or bruising of the brain that leads to swelling of that vital organ, causing it to press against the skull and potentially leading to temporary or permanent brain damage. If brain swelling isn’t quickly treated it could become serious enough to cause death.
  • Hematoma: A hematoma of the brain, which is basically blood on the brain that manages to collect and then form a clot. The brain relies on oxygenated blood to survive. Any area of brain tissue in which a hematoma may be present could suffer a serious drop in oxygenation and, with it, temporary or even permanent damage. In severe cases of brain hematoma, death frequently results.
  • Fractures of the skull: A person’s skull is made up of many individual bones permanently attached to each other. Skull fractures aren’t TBIs themselves but can easily cause traumatic brain injury. For example, if a person’s skull is fractured pieces of the bone could lacerate or cut into the brain and then cause bleeding or other injuries. Serious skull fractures are often fatal while minor ones may lead to long-term medical issues related to brain damage that could affect sight, smell, taste or proper body functioning.

Signs and Symptoms of Head and Brain Injury

There are many different signs and symptoms related to head as well as brain injuries. Concussions and visible fractures of the skull, mandible and jaw bones may be immediately evident. Other signs and symptoms of head or brain injury are subtler and can include depression, continual or intermittent dizziness or balance issues and fuzzy vision or double vision.

Many people that suffer head or brain injury also report feeling tired, sluggish or groggy, have headaches that don’t respond to medication, suffer from memory loss and develop nausea. A head or brain injury also frequently causes sensitivity to noise or light, inconsistent sleep patterns and trouble in concentrating on tasks or remembering even basic information.

Indications of Head Injury

Changes in the size of a person’s pupils are a common indicator of concussion or other head injury.  A serious brain or head injury could cause clear or bloody liquid, known as cerebrospinal fluid, to drain from the injured person’s ears, mouth, or nose. The presence of CSF after a head injury indicates a serious medical condition requiring immediate care and treatment. Distortion of facial features, facial bruising, loss of consciousness after being struck in the head, a stiff neck or vomiting and slurred speech are other indicators of brain or head injury.

When to Seek Aid for Head Injuries

Get medical aid immediately when someone has suffered a head injury and starts becoming very sleepy, vomits more than a single instance or begins behaving abnormally. Also obtain immediate medical aid for a person suffering a head injury if unequal pupil size is evident of if he or she is unable to move an arm or leg. If a person suffers a head injury and loses consciousness, no matter how briefly, seek medical attention right away.

Guidelines for Moderate to Severe Head Injuries

Always call 911 if in doubt when a person suffers a head injury.  It’s also vital that 911 be called in all cases of moderate to severe head injury. Here are several basic first aid measures that can be taken when dealing with a person suspected of suffering a head injury:

1.  Pay attention to the ABCs, or “airway, breathing, circulation.” Head injury victims might require rescue breathing and CPR and it should be delivered without delay whenever it’s necessary.

2.  A person suffering a head injury may become unconscious and if her breathing and heartbeat appears normal treat her as suffering from a possible spinal injury. First aid for spinal injuries involves stabilization of the victim’s head and neck by placing hands on both sides of the person’s head, taking care to keep it in line with the spine. Stabilize the victim’s head and neck until medical help arrives and remove hands from both sides of her head only when directed by medical personnel.

3. Stop any bleeding resulting from a head injury by using a clean cloth or piece of clothing, placing it over the bleeding wound or site and then using compression. If the injured person’s bleeding head injury soaks through the compress over his wound don’t remove it. Instead, place another clean compress over the blood-soaked compress.

4.  Never use direct pressure on a suspected skull fracture site and don’t attempt to remove any debris from the wound. It’s permissible to cover a skull fracture wound site with sterile gauze dressing if it’s available, but avoid placing any compression over the area.

5.  Part of ensuring the ABCs in first-aid is to keep an injured person’s airway open. Vomiting may be present in some head injuries and in an unconscious person could cause serious injury or death from inhalation that leads to choking or suffocation. If the head injury victim is vomiting, roll her head, neck and body as a single unit over onto her side and then clear the mouth of vomit.

6.  If they’re available, apply ice packs to the affected site of a head injury. Head injuries may lead to swelling of the brain and ice packs may help delay or prevent its appearance.

Very serious head injuries in which there is visible injury to the brain, such as the sight of gray matter in fractures of the skull, require rapid medical care and treatment in a hospital environment. If a person has suffered very serious head injury, stabilize him as much as possible by seeing to the ABCs and then assisting medical personnel when they arrive.

Head Injury Precaution Guidelines

A person can suffer a serious head injury and not even display any signs of trauma immediately after it occurs only to see signs and symptoms appear later. Here are a few things to never do in regards to a head injury:

1.  Never wash or clean out a head wound that appears deep or is bleeding profusely.

2.  Never remove any object that’s protruding from a head wound, as removing the object could cause additional trauma. Plus, an object protruding from a head wound may actually be stabilizing that wound and preventing even more injury.

3.  Don’t move a person suffering from head injury unless it’s absolutely necessary and don’t shake the victim if she seems dazed.

4.  If a person is injured in a sports activity and is wearing a helmet never remove it. Removing a helmet from a person after he’s suffered a head injury could cause additional damage as the head and neck are jostled.

5.  Don’t pick up a child if he or she falls down after suffering a head injury, as the spine, the skull and various internal organs could be damaged by doing so.

6.  A person that’s suffered a serious head injury shouldn’t drink alcohol for at least 48 hours after suffering the injury.

It’s relatively easy to learn how to render basic first aid such as keeping a head injury victim’s airway clear and performing rescue breathing as well as CPR. Nothing in this set of head injury guidelines should be considered definitive medical advice and persons suffering head injury as well as those rendering first-aid to such people should seek medical care as soon as possible.

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