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Head injuries describes a vast array of injuries that can occur to the head, skull and brain. Head injuries range from a bump on the head, resulting in a small lump or bruise, to severe head injuries like a fractured skull or penetrating injury that are life threatening. They are considered serious even when there are no visible signs of trauma to the scalp or face.

Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries present in many ways.

  • Contusion – cut to the skin on the head

  • Concussion – mild to moderate shaking of the brain

  • Cerebral Compression – swelling or bleeding of the brain inside the skull

  • Fractured Skull – bone is broken or caved in

  • Penetration Injury – gunshot, embedded object

Concussion Symptoms may include:

  • bump or bruise on the head,

  • nausea and or vomiting,

  • a mild headache and dizziness.

Symptoms may present instantly or may be delayed by some hours. Always keep a close eye on anyone who has had a head injury. Even if the person seems okay, they could develop serious complications.  Seek medical treatment for this person immediately.

Severe Head Injuries

Symptoms may include:

  • nausea and vomiting more than once

  • headache which is getting worse or won’t go away

  • confusion or behaving differently

  • unconsciousness or difficulty staying awake

  • pupils which may be different size to each other

  • trouble seeing, hearing or speaking properly

  • loss of balance or dizziness

  • memory loss


First Aid For Severe Head Injuries

Call an ambulance on triple zero (000) immediately if:

  • The person has any of the above symptoms for severe head injury

  • The person is not breathing

  • The person is unconscious, even if it’s only for a second

  • There is bleeding that won’t stop

  • There is fluid coming from the nose or ears

  • The injury resulted from falls greater than one meter or involved high speed


Important do’s and don’ts while you wait for the ambulance to arrive:

If possible do not move the person unless there is imminent danger or you need to clear and open their airway.

If the person is conscious:

1. Do not move the person unless there is imminent danger

2 . Assess their conscious level

3. Ensure the person is breathing normally

4. Control bleeding from open wound by applying light pressure with a dressing

5. Reassure the person and keep them warm


If the person is unconscious:

1. Do not move the person unless there is imminent danger or you need to clear and open their airway.

2. Call 000

3. Check that the airway is clear and open

4. Check if the person is breathing normally If not, start CPR.

5. If breathing normally roll the person onto their side, open airway, check breathing

6. Control bleeding and treat other injuries

7. Reassure the person and keep them warm

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