How to treat and what causes head and spine injuries

What to do and what not to do in a critical emergency. Don’t move someone who has suffered a blow or fall of any force until you can ascertain that there is no in-jury to head, neck, or back. Doing so risks irreparable damage to the brain or spinal cord. If in any doubt, call an ambulance; a serious wound may be invisible or imperceptible.

Head injuries

Any moderate to severe blow can cause concussion, a jarring injury to the brain. Telltale signs are pain in the head, dizziness, confusion, possible nausea, memory loss, eye pupils of unequal size. Unconsciousness is likely-short term with mild concussion, prolonged if the concussion is severe. Don’t try to rouse the person; get medical help at once.

Sometimes a blow to the head seems too trivial to need attention, its only result a mild, transitory headache. Concussion symptoms don’t always show up immediately; over the ensuing 48 hours, watch for worsening headache, drowsiness, nausea, blurred vision, or other symptoms; report them to your doctor. Months later the effect of head trauma may appear as a personality or memory change; inform your doctor.

Skull fracture is similar in symptoms to concussion but carries the added risk of brain damage. Bleeding from a wounded scalp is usually profuse and should be stopped by applying pressure while the person is being taken to an emergency medical facility. If the skull is open, do not probe inside; infection can result. If a clear liquid discharges from the nose, ears, or mouth, blot it but let it drain.

Spinal injuries

Suspect a broken neck or back if there is difficulty moving fingers, toes, or limbs; numbness or tingling in legs or shoulders; pain in the neck or back. Call for an ambulance immediately. Don’t move the person or allow him to move. Place pillows or rolled blankets at either side of the victim’s head to hold it still. Be calm and reassuring.