Head Injuries: Tips That Can Help You Save A Life!

Head Injuries are a major cause of death and disability in Malaysia. Such injuries are the third most common cause for hospital admissions and fifth most common cause of death in public hospitals, while for private hospitals it is the fifth most common cause of hospitalisation and eighth most common cause of death.

Hence, if you should encounter injury to the head, it would be prudent to check out for warning signs of serious injury, even if it seems minor and harmless.
When should the patient go to see a doctor?

After a minor incident involving injury to the head, are any of the following present?
  • loss of consciousness (‘knocked out’) as a result of the injury, from which the patient has now recovered
  • Amnesia for events before or after the injury (‘problems with memory’).
  • Persistent headache
  • Any vomiting episodes
  • Irritability or altered behavior (‘easily distracted’ ‘not themselves’ ‘no concentration’ ‘no interest in things around them’) particularly in infants and young children (i.e. < 5 years)

Other reasons to see a doctor after a head injury include:

  • A previous cranial neurosurgical intervention (or ’brain surgery’)
  • A history of bleeding or clotting disorders
  • Current anticoagulant therapy such as warfarin
  • Current drug or alcohol intoxication
  • Age greater than 65 years
  • Suspicion of non-accidental injury

When should the case be referred to the ambulance services for emergency transport.

After an incident involving injury to the head, are any of the following present?

  • Unconsciousness, or lack of full consciousness (such as. problems keeping eyes open)
  • Neurological deficit (such as problems understanding, speaking, reading or writing; decreased sensation; loss of balance; general weakness; visual changes; abnormal reflexes; and problems walking)
  • Signs of skull fracture or penetrating head injury (some signs include clear fluid running from the ears or nose, black eye with no associated trauma around the eye, bleeding from one or both ears, new deafness in one or both ears, bruising behind one or both ears, penetrating injury signs and visible trauma to the scalp or skull)
  • Any seizures (‘convulsion’ or ‘fit’)

Additionally, if the head injury was caused by something of high energy for example, a pedestrian struck by motor vehicle, or if the occupant is ejected from a motor vehicle, a fall from a height of greater than 1 metre or more than five stairs, diving accident, high-speed motor vehicle collision, rollover motor accident, accident involving motorised recreational vehicles, bicycle collision, or any other potentially high-energy mechanism, the emergency services should be contacted as soon as possible.

A head injury may lead to internal bleeding in the brain, and this can cause brain damage leading to disability or death. A doctor can determine the full extent of the injury and provide the most suitable treatment to reduce the side effects of such an injury, and prevents the situation from becoming worse.

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