If you have ever had a concussion, you know that a blow to the head can feel like you’re going to die a slow painful death. Much different than other injuries, even the smallest head injury can have serious long-term side effects on your health. However, following proper procedures after a brain injury, or knowing what to do if a friend is a victim, can make a major, sometimes life-saving, impact.
Types of Head Injuries
- Scalp wounds
- Skull fractures
- Diffuse axonal injury
Each injury includes a variety of grades of intensity. For example, there are five types of skull fractures: linear, depressed, diastatic and basilar. Linear skull fractures are the most common amongst the skull fracture category, while basilar fractures are the most serious and require close medical attention in a hospital. Serious brain injuries frequently cause internal bleeding in the brain tissue or layers surrounding the brain.
Common Causes of Head Injuries
There are four common causes of head injuries, and none of them will likely surprise you.
- Sports-related injuries
The most common sport for brain injuries is cycling.
- Slips and falls
- Auto accidents
- Violence and physical assault
In addition to these common causes, it’s important to know that some hematomas and brain hemorrhages occur spontaneously without any specific external cause.
Symptoms of Brain Injuries
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if a person may have some sort of brain injury, particularly for mild injuries. Below are some frequent symptoms experienced for the varying degrees of the injuries.
- Mild Injuries
- Sensitivity to lights and noises
- Swollen area from bump or bruise
- Blurred vision
- Abnormal personal tastes
- Balancing problems
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Moderate or Severe Injuries
- Severe headache
- Short-term memory loss
- Difficulty walking
- Slurred speech
- Seizures and convulsions
- Pale skin color
- Blood or fluid draining from nose or ears
- Open wound on the head
- One eye pupil larger than other
- Behavior changes
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of severe injuries, it’s crucial to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Sometimes symptoms are not immediate and can manifest themselves or accelerate over a few hours or even days. Even when the head appears fine on the outside, internal damage and bleeding could be occurring without initially realizing it. Additionally, if you experience a severe brain injury, your spinal cord is likely to also be damaged. Spinal cord damage can have a serious effect on strength, sensations and other important body functions.
What to Do
- Call 911 immediately if you know someone is experiencing any of the moderate/severe injuries.
- Check his or her breathing and blood circulation
- If breathing and heart rate are normal and he or she is unconscious, stabilize their head by holding it in place with spine. Monitor it to prevent any movement.
- If the head is bleeding, keep a wash cloth firmly pressed against the wound. If it seeps through the wash cloth, keep holding it there and place another cloth on top. Make sure not to move their head.
- If vomiting, lay the head, neck and body all together down on their side to prevent choking.
- Apply ice packs to affected wounded areas
What to NOT Do
- Do not wash a deep head wound
- Do not remove anything sticking out of the wound
- Do not move the victim unless absolutely necessary
- Do not shake them
- Do not remove a helmet
- Do not let them fall asleep
- Do not let them drink alcohol for at least 48 hours
Lindsay Bradshaw is a content developer for Loewy Law in Austin, Texas. She has had a mild concussion.
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