head injury symptoms

Halloween Head Injury Handbook

This week, many of us will be busy celebrating Halloween. It’s a time that’s usually filled with enough blood to make even us first aiders feel slightly nauseous! Thankfully, most of it is usually fake. However, Halloween can be a time when a massive amount of pressure is put on EMS. Many people forget that whilst they may be dressed as a superhero, they don’t actually have superhuman powers. So, this week we’ll be looking into one of the most serious injuries that can occur. Whilst things may go bump in the night this week, we sincerely hope that one of them is not your head. So, without further ado, let us fill you in on some essential tips for spotting head injury symptoms & signs.

Types of Head Injuries

There are a few different types of head injuries. We’ve listed the main ones below:

  • Concussion – this is when the brain is shaken
  • Cerebral Compression – when swelling or bleeding puts pressure on the brain.
  • Fracture – this is when the skull is cracked caused by fractures resulting from direct or indirect force.
  • Cerebral Contusion – bruising on the brain.

Head Injury Signs & Symptoms

Head injuries can happen very easily. Common causes include a blow to the head, car accidents or even falling. Not every head injury occurs as a result of direct impact to the skull, so you should always check for signs no matter the situation.

Some of the common head injury signs & symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Sickness
  • Dizziness
  • Watery blood coming from nose and ears
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Personality change
  • Headache
  • Pain

What to Do if You Suspect a Head Injury

If you spot a person exhibiting head injury signs & symptoms, you must alert the EMS. It is then your job to monitor the patient until they arrive.

Lay the patient down, and gently raise their head and shoulders by a few centimetres to relieve pressure on the brain.  Monitor vital signs.  No food.  No drink.  Stay with patient, and prevent them from sleeping.

What is the AVPU scale?

A patient may lose or fall in and out of consciousness after suffering a head injury. The AVPU scale is the scale that is used to determine whether or not a person is unconscious. AVPU is an acronym to help you remember the steps, which are as follows:

  • Alert – check whether the patient is alert, although not necessarily orientated.
  • Voice – Does the patient respond to voice?
  • Pain – are they responding to pain or touch?
  • Unresponsive – they are failing to respond to any of the above.

Head injuries can be very serious and result in severe trauma, so it’s important that you recognise them early. Although you cannot treat a head injury yourself, you can help the patient gain prompt access to medical care. Recognising head injury symptoms and signs is crucial. Remember that not all occur as a result of direct impact to the skull. They could just as easily be triggered by landing on your feet, with the impact transferring up through your body and damaging the brain.  Be aware that spinal injuries could be a result of this type of impact. It is your job as a first aider to recognise head injury symptoms & signs and monitor the patient’s wellbeing until EMS arrives.  Recognising these symptoms could help you to become someone’s superhero – with or without the costume. Keep it in mind this Halloween.