Precautions and First Aid Measures for Head Injury

Posted on January 19, 2022

Abuse of older and disabled adults is one of the most unnoticed and underreported issues in the U.S. Abuse can mean physically harming or distressing the at-risk adult. Or not doing something that a person must do, such as a caregiver not giving medications to an at-risk adult who needs them.

Neglect occurs when someone intentionally or withholds necessities or care. Self-neglect refers to a person’s inability to provide care and support to him or herself.

First Aid for Head Injury

Learn to recognize a severe head injury and provide basic first aid to save someone's life. For moderate to severe head injury, Call 911 right away.

You suspect a severe head or neck injury, or the person develops any signs or symptoms of a severe head injury. 

  • There is a severe head or face bleeding.
  • The person is confused, tired, unconscious, or stops breathing. Get professional medical help right away if the person:
  • Has a seizure Is unable to move an arm or leg
  • Becomes very sleepy and vomits more than once
  • Behaves abnormally or has a speech that does not make sense
  • Develops a severe headache or stiff neck
  • Has pupils of unequal sizes
  • Loses consciousness, even briefly

Then take these steps: 

  1. Check the person's airway, breathing, and circulation. If necessary, begin rescue breathing and CPR.
  2. If the person's heart rate and breathing are regular but unconscious, treat it as a spinal injury. 
  3. Stabilize the head and neck by keeping your hands on both sides of the person's head in line with the spine and limit movement. Wait for medical help.
  4. If the person vomits, roll their head, neck, and body as one unit onto their side to prevent choking. 
  5. Stop any bleeding by firmly applying pressure a clean cloth on the wound. If the injury is severe, be careful not to move the person's head. 
  6. If you suspect a skull fracture, don't apply a lot of force to the bleeding site, and don't remove any debris from the injury. Cover the cut with a sterile gauze dressing.
  7. Don't remove the cloth if blood soaks through it. Place another cloth over the first one to protect the spine, which may be injured in case of a head injury. 
  8. Children often vomit after a head injury; call a doctor if vomiting persists.
  9. Apply ice packs to swollen areas (cover the ice in a towel, not directly touching the skin).

Follow these precautions

  • Don’t wash a head wound that is deep or bleeding a lot.
  • Don't remove a helmet if you suspect a severe head injury 
  • Don’t remove any object sticking out of a wound.
  • Don’t move the person unless necessary.
  • Don’t shake the person if they seem dazed.
  • Don’t pick up a fallen child with any sign of head injury.
  • Don’t drink alcohol within 48 hours of a severe head injury.

A severe head injury that causes bleeding or brain damage should be in a hospital.

No treatment may be needed for a mild head injury. However, look out for symptoms of a head injury and call for medical advice if they appear later on.