Head injuries are a common occurrence. Unfortunately there are no statistics online for head injuries in Australia, but in England and Wales around 700,000 people attend A&E (Accident & Emergency) each year with a head injury – although 90% of these turn out to be only minor head injuries.
Head injuries are most commonly caused by falls, assaults, and car or motorcycle accidents. Head injuries are particularly common among children – in the UK, 40-50% of people attending A&E with head injuries are children.
Head injuries can be serious, and can result in long term damage if not dealt with properly and promptly. If you encounter someone who has suffered an injury to the head, or if you yourself have suffered a head injury, then you should call the emergency services if any of the following symptoms are apparent:
- Severe bleeding from the head or face
- Complaints of a severe headache
- Confusion, lack of alertness or slurred speech
- Change in level of consciousness
- Loss of balance
- Inability to use the arms or legs
- Unequal pupil size
There are a few extra signs to watch out for in children:
- Repeatedly refusing to eat
- Repeated vomiting
- Persistent crying
In the event of severe head trauma or open head wound:
- Keep the casualty still: If the person is wearing a helmet, do not try to remove it. Keep the person lying down and still with their head and shoulders elevated slightly if possible. Do not move the casualty unless essential.
- Stop any bleeding: Apply firm pressure to the wound with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding. If you suspect a skull fracture then don’t apply pressure to the wound as this could do further damage.
- Monitor breathing and alertness: You may need to provide CPR if the casualty’s circulation stops.
If none of these symptoms are apparent then hospitalization is more than likely unnecessary. But, if you are in doubt, go and see a medical professional.
Complications of a Minor Head Injury
The chances of suffering serious complications from a minor head injury are very unlikely. A study in the UK found that just 14 children out of 200,000 who were admitted with minor head injury needed neurosurgery.
The possible complications which may arise from a minor head injury include:
- Long-term headaches
- Memory Loss
- Difficulty Concentrating
It’s impossible to totally prevent a head injury, but there are things you can do to limit the chances of it happening to you. These things include:
- Always wearing a safety helmet when using a motorbike, cycling, skateboarding etc.
- Always wear a seat-belt when traveling via motor vehicle
- ‘Childproof’ your home and reduce hazards which could lead to a fall
- Use the correct safety equipment for DIY, work and sports
Hopefully this post have given you the knowledge you need to be well-prepared if you ever encounter somebody who has suffered a head injury. Remember, for serious head injuries or open wound injuries to the head, calling the emergency services should always be your first action.
Jason has always had a soft spot for technology and gadgetry. When he is not busy with Australia Wide First Aid, he spends his time giving first aid advice, and sharing his passion for technology with others.