Head injury - first aid

Brain injury; Head trauma

A head injury is any trauma to the scalp, skull, or brain. The injury may be only a minor bump on the skull or a serious brain injury.

Head injury can be either closed or open (penetrating).

  • A closed head injury means you received a hard blow to the head from striking an object, but the object did not break the skull.
  • An open, or penetrating, head injury means you were hit with an object that broke the skull and entered the brain. This is more likely to happen when you move at high speed, such as going through the windshield during a car accident. It can also happen from a gunshot to the head.

Head injuries include:

  • Concussion, in which the brain is shaken, is the most common type of traumatic brain injury.
  • Scalp wounds.
  • Skull fractures.

Head injuries may cause bleeding:

Head injury is a common reason for an emergency room visit. A large number of people who suffer head injuries are children. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) accounts for over 1 in 6 injury-related hospital admissions each year.

Concussion

A concussion may result when the head strikes against an object or is struck by an object. Concussions may produce unconsciousness or bleeding in or around the brain.

Bicycle helmet - proper usage

Helmets can save lives and prevent trauma, but only if they are worn properly. A helmet should be worn squarely on the top of the head, covering the top of the forehead. The chinstrap must be fastened and the helmet should fit snugly and comfortably. The helmet should not be able to move side-to-side or front-to-back. Most helmets come with removable pads so you can customize the fit for any child.

Head injury

Head injuries can range from a minor bump on the head to a devastating brain injury. Learning to recognize a serious head injury, and implementing basic first aid, can make the difference in saving someones life. Common causes of head injury include traffic accidents, falls, physical assault, and accidents at home, work, outdoors, or while playing sports.

Intracerebellar hemorrhage - CT scan

Intracerebellar hemorrhage shown by CT scan. This hemorrhage followed use of t-PA.

Indications of head injury

Head injury can be classified as either closed or penetrating. In closed head injury, the head sustains a blunt force by striking against an object. In penetrating head injuries, a high velocity object breaks through the skull and enters the brain. The signs and symptoms of a head injury may occur immediately or develop slowly over several hours.

You've fallen and hit your head. It hurts a little, but you're not bleeding and you feel okay. Do you have a head injury, or are you fine? Knowing how to tell a minor head injury from a serious one could literally save your life. Let's talk about head injuries. Millions of people get head injuries every year. They get into car accidents or fights, they fall, or they get hit in the head while playing sports or working on the job. Most head injuries are minor, because your head comes equipped with its own natural hard hat, a protective skull that surrounds and protects your brain. But sometimes that protection isn't enough. More than a half-million people each year get head injuries severe enough to send them to the hospital. The most common type of head injury is a concussion. That's when a hit in the head makes your brain jiggle around in your skull. You can also get a bruise on your brain, called a contusion. Brain contusions are a lot more serious than bruises from a bump on the arm or leg. Other types of head injuries include a fractured skull or a cut on your scalp. If you get hit in the head or fall and you don't bleed, you've got a closed head injury. If an object enters your brain, like glass from a windshield during a car accident or a bullet from a gunshot, then you have an open head injury. It can be very hard to tell if you've got a minor closed head injury or a serious one. Your head might look perfectly fine from the outside, when you actually have bleeding or swelling inside your brain. To tell the difference, look for other signs of a serious head injury, such as a severe headache; Clear or bloody fluid coming from your nose, ears, or mouth; Confusion, drowsiness, or a loss of consciousness; Changes in the way you hear, see, taste, or smell; memory loss; mood changes or strange behaviors; slurred speech or recurrent vomiting. If you or someone else has any of these symptoms, call for medical help right away. If you don't have these symptoms and you think it's just a minor head injury, you probably don't need to be treated. Just ask a friend or family member to keep an eye on you. If it's your child or someone else with the head injury, wake them up from sleep every 2 or 3 hours to ask questions like, Where are you? and What's your name? just to make sure they're alert. If you're in any doubt about whether a head injury is serious, play it safe and get medical help. To play it even safer, protect your head during any activities that could lead to an injury. Wear a helmet whenever you skateboard, roller skate, ski, snowboard, or ride a bike or motorcycle. Put on your seatbelt whenever you're in the car. And put kids in an age-appropriate car seat or booster seat.

Causes

Symptoms

First Aid

Do Not

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Prevention