The likelihood of a head injury occurring in a fall, a traffic collision, or an incident of violence is always great. And in such cases, the injury is generally more serious in children since a child’s skull is weaker, and the possibility of skull fracture even greater. Yet even in the absence of skull fracture, severe damage to the brain may occur.
If a victim of any of the accidents mentioned above shows signs of drowsiness or loss of consciousness (however brief), it may mean he has sustained some degree of cerebral concussion. The time during which the state of unconsciousness lasted may indicate the severity of the concussion.
There are other symptoms that may point to the occurrence of head injury with concussion, such as nausea and vomiting, severe headache, and shock. There may be external bleeding from the mouth, nose, or ears in case the skull has been fractured. If bleeding occurs inside the skull, the victim may experience a brief lucid interval (a temporary improvement in the victim’s condition) or may remain unconscious up to the time that the pressure on the brain has been relieved by surgery.
Dealing with such an emergency requires the performance of certain steps until a doctor takes charge of the victim of head injury. First step in the procedure calls for keeping the victim lying down and covered with blankets or coats. This is important to conserve the victim’s body heat and thus lessen the danger of shock. It is likewise important to obtain the services of a physician before moving the victim from the accident site.
In case of strangling, the victim’s head should be turned to one side in order that the vomitus or blood may escape from the corner of his mouth, lessening interference with breathing. If bleeding from the scalp is present, cover the wound with a clean cloth; a bandage should be used to hold the covering in place. The bandage should be made in such a way that it will not cause undue pressure over the scalp wound because of possible skull fracture. Place an ice bag next to the victim’s head, if one is available.
If it becomes necessary to move the victim of head injury, do so with the least possible movement of his body and with him lying flat. Observe him closely for at least the next twenty-four hours. Any deepening of the victim’s torpor or his return to a state of unconsciousness (after he has once been conscious) should be noted. In such cases, a hemorrhage inside the skull may have occurred. It is therefore necessary to notify the doctor of any such change at once.
As well as performing these emergency steps for a head injury victim, there are also several things the first aider should avoid doing or prevent from happening. Foremost of these is to not allow the head injury victim to sit up or walk around. The victim, in his confused condition, may insist on doing so. On the other hand, the victim should not be restrained too much inasmuch as excessive restraint often causes violence. For example, the first aider should allow the victim to lie on his side if he so wishes.
If the head injury victim is not conscious, do not try to rouse him. Do not give any sedative or pain reliever (this includes aspirin) to a victim who is not fully conscious; do not give him any stimulant or alcoholic drink. A victim of head injury should never be left unattended.
1. “Head injury”, on Medline Plus – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000028.htm
2. “Head Injury Treatment”, on WebMD – http://firstaid.webmd.com/head-injury-treatment