Head Injury

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Head injury is a very serious condition which may be life-threatening. The damage done following head injury depends on the extent of such injury.

However, since the extent cannot be judged by merely looking at the person involved, it is very important to present to the nearest health facility where a doctor can assess the extent of the injury and institute appropriate management or refer to another health facility, depending on the severity of the injury.

While someone with head injury who loses consciousness completely may receive prompt attention by being taken to the hospital, persons with supposedly less severe injury may not receive such attention.

Sometimes a person involved in head injury faints (loses consciousness temporarily) and wakes up few minutes later. This may be deceptive as the relatives of such patient usually think that the patient is normal having woken up.

The head-injured person wakes up as the brain recovers from the initial shock occasioned by the injury. However, in cases where the trauma involves damage to blood vessels in the brain, resulting in bleeding inside the skull, it usually takes some time for blood to accumulate.

Though the person has woken up, following significant accumulation of blood in the brain, the pressure inside the brain (intracranial pressure) increases and the individual may go unconscious again.

This may result in significant brain damage if not taken care of promptly. This is the reason prompt presentation in the hospital is very important. 

What to do before getting to the hospital?

If you meet a patient with head injury, especially at an accident scene, having established that the individual is still alive, one of the first steps to take is to stabilize the neck because what affects the head may have also affected the neck.

Stabilizing the neck helps protect the spinal cord from injury, if it was not previously injured or from making the injury more severe, if there was previously a minor injury.

To protect the neck, one important thing needed is a neck collar. Since standard neck collar may not be immediately accessible or available, any semi-rigid object like bathroom slippers may be improvised.

This ensures that the neck is not mobile while moving the patient. Movement of such patient should be gentle as rough movement may convert small injury to a bigger one.

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