Head Injuries

Head injury may be caused by a number of mechanisms including, falls, assaults, motor vehicle crashes, sporting injuries and, less commonly, penetrating injuries. A victim may sustain a significant head injury without loss of consciousness or loss of memory (amnesia). Therefore, loss of consciousness or memory loss should not be used to define the severity of a head injury.

The initial first aid for a victim with head injury includes assessing and managing the airway and breathing, whilst caring for the neck until expert help arrives.

Recognition of a Head Injury

A brain injury should be suspected if the victim has a reported or witnessed injury, has signs of injury to the head or face such as bruises or bleeding, or is found in a confused or unconscious state. A victim may have a brain injury without external signs of injury to the head or face. Serious problems may not be obvious for several hours after the initial injury.

Management of a Head Injury

  • D.R.S.A.B.C.D. and call an ambulance, if there has been a loss of consciousness or altered consciousness at any time, no matter how brief.
  • A victim who has sustained a head injury, whether or not there has been loss of consciousness or altered consciousness, should be assessed by a health care professional.
  • Check for response: If the victim is unconscious immediately D.R.S.A.B.C.D.
  • Ensure that the airway is clear.
  • Protect the neck whilst maintaining a clear airway.
  • Identify and control any significant bleeding with direct pressure if possible.
  • If the victim is unresponsive and not breathing normally, commence resuscitation.


Concussion is a temporary loss of consciousness or altered state of consciousness, resulting from a head injury, followed by a rapid recovery.


  • Period of unconsciousness
  • Loss of memory
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Blurred vision

Management of a Concussion

  • D.R.S.A.B.C.D. and reassure the casualty.
  • It is important that any victim of a head injury is seen to as soon as possible after the incident by a healthcare professional.