Head Injury and Concussion

Head Injury and Concussion: First Aid for Head Injuries


Our brain is protected by the thick, strong bones of the skull, but even this robust protection may not always prevent it from getting injured. According to statistics, about 50% of people with severe head injuries die, and among men under the age of 35, head injury is one of the most common causes of death. The brain can suffer damage even if the skull bones are not broken. Most head injuries are associated with sudden acceleration, often caused by a severe blow to the head or a sudden stop, such as during abrupt braking in a car accident.

Symptoms of Head Injury

Symptoms of a head injury include dizziness, pain, nausea, seizures, photophobia, loss of coordination, and weakness. In the case of a severe injury that leads to significant brain damage, there may be a loss of consciousness, speech, hearing, and memory. The specific functions lost depend on which part of the brain is affected and the extent of the damage. The type and severity of impairments also determine whether the head injury will result in full recovery, disability, or death.

Types of Head Injuries

Head injuries are generally divided into two types:

  1. Head Contusion: Involves damage to only soft tissues and skin.
  2. Cranio-Cerebral Injuries: Includes skull fractures, brain contusions, and brain injuries.

Head Contusions

Minor head contusions are more common than severe ones that require medical attention. A minor contusion with just a hematoma, bump, and pain at the site of the impact can be treated at home by applying cold to the area and ensuring the injured person gets complete rest. However, if there is a wound at the site of the contusion, bleeding, severe headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, or vomiting, it is essential to call an ambulance immediately.

Cranio-Cerebral Injuries

Cranio-cerebral injuries can be either open or closed:

  • Open Injuries: These involve skull fractures with cracks, holes, depressions, or fragments. Arteries and veins may often be damaged, leading to bleeding around brain tissues.
  • Closed Injuries: These involve damage to the soft tissues of the head without any skull fractures. There might be a loss of consciousness lasting a few minutes. Persistent headache, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness indicate a concussion – a condition where a head injury leads to impaired brain function without visible external damage.


A concussion does not cause external damage to the head but may result in temporary confusion, drowsiness, and memory and concentration issues. People with concussions find it difficult to learn, work, and interact with others. This condition is known as post-traumatic syndrome. Symptoms of post-traumatic syndrome often resolve within days or weeks. A concussion always requires a doctor’s visit. If the concussion is mild, no special treatment is needed. Painkillers and avoiding “shaking” the skull are usually sufficient. If symptoms like increased headache, confusion, and drowsiness worsen, the patient should be taken to the hospital immediately for an MRI to diagnose the condition and determine treatment.

First Aid for Head Injuries

When providing first aid to people who have suffered severe cranio-cerebral injuries, it is crucial to act very carefully. Avoid panic, as the way you act in the first minutes after a head injury can significantly affect the treatment process and the possibility of saving the injured person’s life. Before the arrival of the ambulance, ensure complete rest for the patient and avoid unnecessary movements and pressure on the head.

It is recommended to place a small pillow or rolled-up clothing under the head and shoulders. If possible, apply cold or a sterile dressing to the injury site to reduce bleeding and subcutaneous hemorrhaging. It is essential to prevent infection from entering the brain, as this could lead to meningitis or encephalitis, complicating treatment.

Do not leave the injured person unattended until the ambulance arrives, as head injuries often cause loss of consciousness and breathing difficulties, which can lead to cardiac arrest. If breathing stops, immediately begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to prevent a fatal outcome.