Doctor wraps young man's head in gauze following a head injury

When to Visit the Emergency Room Following a Head Trauma


About 1.7 million people visit the emergency room with head injuries each year. These head injuries include concussions, scalp wounds and skull fractures, which are often caused by car accidents, physical assaults, falls, accidents at home or work, or while playing sports.

If you or a loved one experiences a head injury, it’s important to know how to recognize the symptoms of severe head trauma and when to go to the emergency room.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

Head traumas and concussions can range mild to severe. If someone experiences any of the following symptoms after a head injury, seek immediate medical attention by calling 9-1-1 or visiting your closest emergency room.

  • Unconsciousness
  • Blurred Vision
  • Slurred Speech
  • Severe Headaches
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Limited mobility
  • Abnormal Behavior
  • Extreme Fatigue or sleepiness
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Severe Bleeding

For mild head injuries, it is recommended that the injured person be monitored closely for any of the above-mentioned symptoms for at least 24 hours following the injury. If they begin experiencing any of the symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

Head Trauma Health and Safety Tips

Not all head injuries can be prevented, but serious effects of brain injuries, including fatality, can sometimes be avoided by following the proper steps. Following these tips to help prevent head injuries and learn the DOs and DON’Ts to know the right decisions in the event of a head trauma.

Head Trauma Prevention Tips

  • Use safety equipment during activities that could cause a head injury.
  • Follow all bicycle safety recommendations, including wearing a helmet.

DOs & DON’Ts of Head Trauma

  • DO call an ambulance immediately if the individual stops breathing or if you suspect serious brain injury.
  • DO check the individual’s airways and breathing. If necessary, begin rescue breathing and CPR.
  • DON’T remove any object sticking out of the wound.
  • DO stop any bleeding by firmly pressing a clean cloth on the wound.
  • DON’T remove a cloth if it soaks through but add a new clean cloth to stop blood loss.
  • DON’T try to move the person’s head.
  • DON’T move the person unless absolutely necessary and DON’T remove a helmet if you suspect serious head injury.
  • In the event that the person is vomiting, DO roll the person’s head, neck and body as one on to their side to help prevent choking.
  • DON’T drink alcohol within 48 hours of a serious head trauma

Proper and quick medical attention can help decrease the risk of fatality caused by head trauma. If you or a loved one experiences any symptoms of a concussion or traumatic brain injury, seek immediate medical attention by calling 9-1-1 or visiting your closest emergency room.

Sources:
ABC News | Brain Injury Basics: What You Need to Know
Medline Plus | Head injury - first aid

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