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First Aid for Head Injuries: What to Do

A head injury can happen to people of all ages, and can range from minor to severe. Today we will talk about what to do when a head injury occurs.

What are the best practices for head injuries?

Short Answer: Checking their airway, breathing and circulation as well as their heart rate 

  • Keeping the person still and avoiding any unnecessary movement is important 
  • Continuously monitor their consciousness throughout 
  • Minimize movement in their neck in case of neck or spinal injury 
  • If there are signs of swelling, apply a cold compress or an ice pack

Understanding the Different Types of Head Injuries

Head injuries can refer to any trauma or damage that occurs to the head, including the scalp, skull or brain. They can vary in severity and result from various situations, such as:

  • Accidents 
  • Falls
  • Sports-related injuries 
  • Assaults 
  • Medical conditions

They are a major concern due to the vital structures housed within the skull, including the brain.

Let’s take a look at the different types of head injuries that occur:


A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head. It often results in temporary loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness and confusion.

Concussions need to be evaluated by a medical professional.

Penetrating injuries

A penetrating head injury occurs when an object penetrates the skull and enters the brain. It can result from gunshot wounds, sharp objects or high-velocity objects.

These types of injuries are severe and require immediate medical attention.


A collection of blood outside the blood vessels, it can occur within the brain or between the brain and the skull in the case of a head injury.

Hematomas can cause increased pressure within the skull, leading to symptoms such as:

  • Headaches 
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Neurological deficits

Skull fracture

When there is a break in the bones of the skull, the skull has been fractured. It results from a severe impact to the head and will cause pain, bleeding from the ears or nose, bruising and swelling.


A contusion refers to a bruise on the brain tissue. This happens when a forceful impact causes the brain to hit against the skull.

Symptoms may include nausea, drowsiness, and difficulty in speaking or moving.

Scalp injuries

Scalp injuries involve damage to the skin and underlying tissues of the scalp. They can either be minor cuts and lacerations to extensive tearing or avulsion of the scalp.

They often result in swelling, pain, bleeding and may require stitches or surgery.

Note that head injuries can be serious and even life-threatening sometimes. If you suspect a head injury, seek immediate medical attention.

How to Assess and Manage Head Injuries in Emergency Situations

Assessing and managing head injuries in emergency situations requires a systematic approach to ensure the person’s safety and for them to receive the appropriate care.

Here are steps that can help you during an emergency situation:

Evaluate responsiveness

Determine the person’s level of consciousness. Approach them and ask simple questions, such as their name and if they can hear you.

Assess their response and observe if they are alert, drowsy, and confused.

Check airway and breathing

Look, listen and feel for signs of normal breathing, that their airway is clear and unobstructed.

If they are not breathing or or have an obstructed airway, initiate CPR if you are trained to do so.

Control bleeding

If there is bleeding from the head, apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or sterile dressing to control the bleeding.

Avoid applying direct pressure to any protruding objects.

Assess pupils

Check the person’s pupils for size, equality and reactivity to light. Abnormalities, such as unequal pupil size or lack of response to light, can indicate more severe brain injury and require immediate medical attention.

Keep the person elevated

Elevate the person’s head slightly to reduce swelling. However, do not force movement if there is suspected neck or spinal injury.

Maintain body temperature

Cover the person with a blanket or clothing to maintain their body temperature. Head injuries can affect the body’s ability to regulate body temperature, so it is important to prevent hypothermia or overheating.

Medical attention is essential for prompt and proper evaluation, diagnosis and treatment. Reassure the person while waiting for professional help.

When to Seek Medical Attention for Head Injuries

Seeking medical attention for head injuries is better for proper evaluation and appropriate treatment.

While some head injuries are minor and resolve on their own, others can be quite severe and require immediate medical attention.

Let’s take a look at situations when it is advisable to seek medical attention:

Severe headache

Intense and severe headaches following a head injury could be a sign of a more significant problem, such as a hematoma or a concussion.

Changes in mental status

Any noticeable changes in mental status should be taken seriously. This includes confusion, difficulty concentrating, and disorientation.

These symptoms may indicate a brain injury and require a medical assessment.

Significant force or high-impact injury

If the head injury was caused by a significant force or a high-impact accident, such as a fall from a great height, a sports-related injury or a motor-vehicle accident, it is advisable to get help from a professional.

Persistent or worsening symptoms

In the event that symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, or sensitivity to light or noise worsen over time, medical attention is needed.

Loss of consciousness

Loss of consciousness is one of the major signs, and if the person is unconscious even for a brief amount of time, medical attention should be requested immediately. This could indicate something more serious.

Drowsiness or difficulty awakening

If the injured person has become excessively drowsy, has difficulty waking up, it could be a sign of a more severe brain injury.

It is always to be on the side of caution and seek medical attention, especially if you are unaware of what to do.

Tips on Preventing Head Injuries and Managing Head Injury Recovery

Preventing head injuries is the key to maintaining personal safety and well-being.

Some tips you can consider are:

Be mindful of surroundings

Stay alert and aware of your surroundings to avoid potential hazards, such as

  • Low hanging objects 
  • Slippery floors 
  • Construction zones

Pay attention to warning zones and follow safety instructions in public spaces.

Practice safe driving

Observe traffic rules, avoid distractions while driving and drive responsibly to reduce the risk of motor vehicle accidents and associated head injuries.

Maintain safe working environment

If your work involves potential head injury risks, such as construction or industrial jobs, wear protective headgear and follow safety protocols.

Be cautious on stairs

Use handrails when going up or down stairs. Be mindful of slippery stairs and loose carpeting, and fix any hazards promptly.

Protective headgear

Whenever engaging in activities that pose a risk of head injury, wear protective headgear.

This includes wearing helmets when cycling, riding motorcycles, and playing contact sports.

Safety education

Educate yourself and others about the importance of head injury prevention. Share safety information with family and friends to raise awareness.

By following these preventive measures and having a safety-conscious mindset, the risk of head injuries can be reduced to a certain extent.

Workplace safety is of top priority, and the SURVIVAL Workplace First Aid KIT is exactly what you will need to be workplace compliant, find out more here.

The SURVIVAL Family First Aid KIT is fully stocked and has got you covered when it comes to minor incidents or emergencies at home.

Related Questions

What is the impact of severe bleeding during head injuries?

Severe bleeding can be the potential cause of a lot of consequences, such as brain damage, neurological deficits, hemorrhagic shock, and long-term disabilities as well.

The impact can vary depending on the location, extent and promptness of medical intervention. Immediate medical care is very crucial in managing severe bleeding and minimizing its impact on the individual’s health and well-being.

Why is there a risk of spinal injury?

This is from the close proximity and interconnection of the spinal cord and brain. The spinal cord is the bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the brain down the spine.

When a significant force or trauma occurs to the head, there is potential for the impact to transmit forces down the spine, leading to spinal injury.

The forceful jolt can cause the head and neck to move forcefully, which can damage the spinal cord, vertebrae, and supporting structures.


When it comes to head injuries, there are many different outcomes that can arise.

We hope you find this information helpful.


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