Traumatic Brain Injuries

Injuries are part and parcel of a long-term survival scenario. Many realize that good boots, gloves, and even protective eyewear will prevent many of these injuries, but few will take action to protect against head injuries.

Most head injuries cause superficial damage and are not life-threatening. Indeed, most amount to only a laceration of the scalp, a black eye, or a painful bump. These wounds, however, can hide damage inside the cranium, the part of the skull that contains the brain.

Injuries that affect the brain are called traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). It’s important for the medic to recognize when trauma to the skull has caused damage that is more than superficial.

Concussions – The Most Common TBI

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Concussions are the most common type of TBI. A concussion is associated with a variety of symptoms that are often immediately apparent. The presentation of a concussion will vary from one individual to the next.

Although you might expect a loss of consciousness, the victim often remains completely alert. As you might imagine, pain at the site of injury or headache is the most commonly seen symptom.

Others include:

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  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Ringing in the ear (also called “tinnitus”)
  • Difficulty concentrating

A person with trauma to the head may be knocked unconsciousness for a period of time. In most cases, they will “wake up” in less than 2 minutes, but you can notice them to be “foggy” and behave inappropriately (put me in, coach!). They may not remember the events that led to the injury. This patient will merit close observation for the next 48 hours.

Examine the victim for evidence of…

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