Traumatic brain injury can happen in a wide range of situations putting everyone at risk, especially children and older adults. In this blog, we’ve compiled all facts you need to know about traumatic brain injury for effective first aid treatment.
What is Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) refers to the sudden movement to the head and brain causing it to bounce or twist in the skull. These can result in brain cells injury and breaking of blood vessels, which can create chemical changes. Common examples of head injuries and TBI are concussion, hematoma, brain bleeds, skull fracture, and scalp wounds.
TBI is often caused by a sudden bump, blow, jolt, or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the brain’s normal function. Not all hits result in TBI, but when it happens, the symptoms may range from mild to severe.
About 75% of TBI’s that occur every year are mild. However, mild TBI still involves some degree of brain injury that needs immediate treatment.
Symptoms of TBI
The signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury may include the following:
- Headache (mild to severe)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Slurred speech
- Loss of balance
- Problems with senses – blurred vision, ringing in the ears, changes in the ability to smell or taste.
- Sensitivity to light or sound
Cognitive, behavioural, or mental symptoms
- Loss of consciousness that lasts a few minutes
- Being in a state of dazed, confused, or disoriented
- Memory or concentration problems
- Mood or behaviour changes
- Depression or anxiety
- Difficulty in sleeping or sleeping more than usual
Every year, about 54 to 60 million people are affected by traumatic brain injury. 50,000 of these injuries result in death, and over 80,000 individuals will suffer permanent disability. There is a high risk that you or someone you know will sustain a traumatic brain injury from the statistics.
People involved in certain activities or professions are at higher risk. These include recreational and professional athletes, construction workers, military, police, and law enforcement.
First Aid for Traumatic Brain Injury
Perform the following first aid steps while waiting for emergency services to arrive.
Call emergency services.
Call Triple Zero (000). When faced with brain injury, your priority is to call for medical help or take the victim to the nearest emergency room. If you can do it yourself, that is good news. But if you can’t, you can have someone call emergency services. It could be a bystander, a coworker, a family member, or a friend.
Stay calm and apply ice.
If the victim is conscious, ask them to rest as you apply something cold to the injury. Use an ice pack or ice-covered in cloth and apply it for up to 20 minutes. These will help reduce external swelling as well as pain.
Stop the bleeding
If there is an open wound, apply pressure until the bleeding stops. The head consists of many tiny blood vessels that can make even small wounds seem life-threatening. Still, do not take any chances and apply pressure if you suspect a skull fracture.
If the person becomes disoriented, has slurred speech, or cannot recall certain details, try to stay awake until they are evaluated by a professional. Falling asleep will give paramedics or the doctor a harder time to evaluate the condition. Worse, the person could lapse into a coma.
Watch for any changes in breathing or alertness. If there are no signs of circulation, breathing, or movement from the victim, begin CPR.
Do not make any assumptions about your condition following a head injury. Doing so could have life-threatening consequences.
Learn First Aid
Trauma to the brain happens more than we think. We might experience a quick recovery after a TBI, but these injuries can cause lasting damage without initial treatment.
Learn first aid to recognise the signs and provide appropriate treatment for head and brain injuries. Enrol in a First aid course to find out more.