Brain injuries can be mild, from a minor concussion that will pass quickly, to severe. Severe brain injuries can be life threatening. If someone around you may have a severe brain injury, call 911.
There are steps you can take to help for both concussions and more serious brain injuries. For the purposes of this article, we’ll assume that a concussion means that the person is conscious, but potentially disconcerted. We’ll assume that a more serious injury means they are unconscious. Here are first aid steps for both.
First Aid for Concussions
First, call for medical help if any of the following occur:
- The person has vomited more than once
- One eye dilates more than the other
- They’re dizzy, confused or agitated
- They pass out, get sleepy, or cannot be woken up if asleep
- They have slurred speech or trouble walking
- They feel weakness on one side of the body
- They have neck pain
- They have a seizure
- If the person is a child, it’s always a good idea to seek medical help
First aid steps you can take include:
- Ask them to sit down or rest (without going to sleep)
- Immediately apply a cold pack to the injury. Do not apply ice directly to the head.
- Offer them acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain. Other over the counter pain relievers may make the injury worse.
- Arrange for someone to be with them over the next 24 hours to watch for further symptoms.
- If their headache keeps getting worse, they continue to vomit, they become more confused, or they experience increased drowsiness or dizziness, call a doctor.
Most concussions will become less severe within the first 24 hours and symptoms normally vanish altogether within a week.
First Aid for Severe Brain Injuries
Brain injuries can be caused many ways, and may or may not involve an open wound on the head. We’ll start with basic steps to take if there is no open wound:
- Call 911.
- Check that their airway is open and that they’re breathing. If not, perform CPR.
- Assume that the person has a spinal injury as well as a head injury. Do not try to move them. Stabilize the neck by putting your hands on both sides of the head to keep it from moving. Keep it in line with the spinal column at all times.
- Apply cold packs to swollen areas.
- If the person vomits, you need to roll them on their side so that they can still breathe. Do this by carefully rolling the torso, neck and head all at once. Minimize twisting as they roll over.
If the person is bleeding from the head, follow these additional steps:
- Do not remove any debris from the wound.
- Do not wash a deep or bleeding head wound.
- Stop the bleeding by firmly pressing a clean cloth on the wound. If blood soaks through the cloth, do not remove it. Leave it in place and add another.
- If you suspect a fractured skull, or you are not sure, do not press directly on the wound site. Instead, just lay the gauze or cloth over the wound to stop blood.
A head injury can be a terrifying experience. The first priority is the health and safety of the injured person. Afterward, you also need to think about long term care. If you or a loved one received a traumatic brain injury in an accident, you may be eligible for compensation to offset the costs of care. Call The Ernst Law Group for a free evaluation today.