How do I manage Head Injuries?

How do I manage Head Injuries?

Over the last few months I have had a few questions about Head Injury management and the role of pain medication in Head Injuries. So, if one person asks the question then the general rule is many more have a question but haven’t asked! So here goes….

Firstly, remember, What is the best clue to you as a First Aider that someone may have a Head Injury?

History! The history of the event. What happened?

Common causes of Head injuries include:

  • car accidents
  • sports injuries
  • accidents at home, such as slips, falls or trips
  • accidents at work, such as falls or being hit on the head
  • assaults
  • falls from horses, motorbies and ATV’s
  • Buggy flips or rollovers
  • and more
Ask “What Happened?” and if they can’t tell you, see if anyone else knows

The key to management of the Head Injury is observation. The risk in Head Injury is that they can have a pattern of deterioration over time that we can’t see and we can’t do anything about. Position the patient with the head and shoulders raised. Get a GCS score early. Remember the GCS (Glasgow Coma Scale). If not, go to your text book now and look it up again to refresh your memory! And do it over and over until you are happy that there is no deterioration. Even then, continue to monitor for up to 24 hours (48 hours for children or elderly)

Can I give Paracetomol?

Yes, but no other pain killer. Use only as directed and remember to ask the ‘safety’ questions you would ask prior to giving any medication.No Ibuprofen or Aspirin. They can make any bleeding worse.

When should I call for Medical Aid?

Seek Medical assistance immediately if:

  • vomits more then once
  • has trouble seeing, hearing or speaking properly
  • has a headache which is getting worse or won’t go away with paracetamol
  • has difficulty seeing or hearing
  • is confused or acting strangely
  • has difficulty staying awake
  • has pupils which are a different size to each other
  • loses balance or feels dizzy
  • loses memory
  • has bleeding or discharge from the ear or nose
  • has a seizure or starts twitching or convulsing
  • develops blurred or double vision, or becomes clumsy
  • has difficulty swallowing or eating

You should also see your doctor if:

  • you develop any other new symptoms
  • you become increasingly concerned

After a head injury, the most important treatment is complete physical and mental rest. That means not using computer screens, playing video games or working or studying for at least 24 to 48 hours. You should not play sport and you may need to take time off work until you are feeling better.

Do not drive or operate machinery for at least 24 hours after a head injury. Drinking alcohol, taking sleeping pills or using drugs will make you feel much worse.

*Reference for this blog post is from Health Direct.

If you would like more information about this topic or any others, purchase any First Aid stock or equipment, or to book a Remote Area First Aid course, please contact us on 0491 057 339 or email

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By Scott Brown

Author bio:

For over 22 years Scott Brown has been training Remote Area First Aid across Australia. Having first joined Rural Ambulance Victoria in 2001 and working in the high-country in Victoria, he began teaching First Aid for Rural Ambulance Victoria. 22 years on, he works with some of Australia’s largest pastoral corporations and property managers that combined manage over 200,000 square kms of the Australian landscape.

Known for conveying detailed First Aid information in a relatable and relaxed way, Scott’s courses have become popular with Pastoral Property Managers, overseers and ringers alike. The highly practical course content ensures relevance to actual situations that are possible to encounter on a working property.

Scott continues to work with Ambulance Victoria alongside his First Aid training. 

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