All head injuries are possibly serious because they can harm the brain and make someone lose consciousness. How severe a head injury is, depends on how someone hit their head and how harsh the impact was.
A head injury might cause injury to the brain tissue or to blood vessels contained within the skull, or even crack the skull (known as a skull fracture).
What to look for – Head injuries
If you think somebody has a head injury, there are six important signs you should look for:
- Short-term loss of consciousness
- Scalp wound
- Vertigo or nausea
- Loss of memory of happenings before or during the injury
For a serious head injury, you also need to search for:
- Reduced level of reaction
- Loss of awareness
- Leakage of blood or watery liquid from the nose or ear
- Uneven pupil size
First Aid Steps – Head Injuries
- Sit them down and offer them something cold to press against the wound. You can use a cold ice pack, or a shopping bag of ice or frozen peas enclosed in a cloth.
- Treat any scalp injuries like a bleed, by applying direct force to the injury.
- Check their level of awareness, by means of the AVPU scale below. Make a note of their responses, particularly any changes to their level of reaction, to pass on to the ambulance, if for instance you have to phone one.
The AVPU Scale
A – Alert: Is the victim alert? Are their eyes open and do they react to questions?
V – Voice: Do they react to your voice? Can they answer simple questions and react to directions?
P – Pain: If they’re not alert or they’re not reacting to your voice – do they react to pain? Try tapping them on the shoulder.
U – Unresponsive: Do they react to questions or a calm shake or tap on the shoulder?