Head Injury

Every year, millions of people in the U.S. sustain head and brain injuries. Some are minor because the skull is quite good at protecting the brain. More than half are bad enough that people must go to the hospital. Serious head injuries can lead to permanent brain damage or death.Symptoms of minor head injuries usually go away without treatment. Serious head injuries need emergency treatment.

Dial 911or call for emergency medical assistance if any of the following signs are apparent:

  • A headache that gets worse or does not go away
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • An inability to awaken from sleep
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased confusion, restlessness or agitation

Stop any bleeding. Apply firm pressure to the wound with sterile gauze or a clean cloth. Don't apply direct pressure to the wound if you suspect a skull fracture.

Watch for changes in breathing and alertness.If the person shows no signs of circulation (breathing, coughing or movement), begin CPR.

If severe head trauma occurs: Keep the person still.Until medical help arrives, keep the person who sustained the injury lying down and quiet in a darkened room, with the head and shoulders slightly elevated. Don't move the person unless necessary and avoid moving the person's neck.

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