Signs Of Brain Injury And Getting Help

More young adults are suffering brain injury through risky behaviour after drinking – and the Foreign Office has launched a campaign to warn young adults about indulging in risky behaviour like climbing over balconies and falls from height while under the influence of alcohol.

Sometimes the side effects of alcohol can mask the effects of a brain injury if the individual bangs his or her head while under the influence of alcohol – stumbling about, weakness in limbs, confused speech, or shouting and swearing can all be signs of brain injury, so if your friend takes a tumble or hits their head while out drinking and displays any unusual behaviour afterwards, get them to A&E, just in case.


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The common signs of brain injury which indicate medical help is needed urgently include:

  • Blood or clear liquid in ears or nose
  • Deafness or hearing problems after head injury
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Drowsiness and lack of consciousness
  • Fits
  • Headache and neck pain
  • Memory loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Speech problems after head injury, including shouting or swearing
  • Visual disturbances – blindness, double vision, unable to focus, floaters
  • Weakness or paralysis in face or limbs.

The brain is divided into two hemispheres and generally the left side controls the right side of the body and vice versa.

This is why when stroke victims suffer brain injury, one side of their body is affected – and uninjured side of the brain can also sometimes take over the function of the injured side as the patient recovers from brain injury.

Even when no obvious sign of injury to the head is evident, it is always best to seek medical help, as underlying brain injury may exist.

Children can be very robust after a head injury, but it is always a good idea to get them checked out – a blow to the head can cause bleeding on the brain or a blood clot, which may develop and require urgent treatment.

Blows to head can also lead to concussion and conditions like scarring behind the eye, which may require treatment in later life if left undiagnosed. A blow to the head may also cause a detached retina, which will need surgery to maintain sight in that eye.

Signs of concussion include:

  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Headaches and neck pain
  • Loss of consciousness or blackouts
  • Nausea and vomiting (often frequent)
  • Sleeping
  • Temporary problems with speech, hearing, taste, smell
  • Visual problems – eg double vision, unable to focus, floaters

One of the most common causes of brain injury is stroke – and it is vital to get help as soon as possible if you suspect an individual may be having a stroke.

Strokes are caused by blood clots on the brain and usually affect one side of the brain, which is why stroke patients experience symptoms like facial paralysis and mobility problems (eg unable to lift their arm) on one side of the body. The first signs of a stroke may be the facial features appearing to “fall” on one side, and slurred or confused speech. Testing to see if a person can lift their arms is a way of confirming they need medical attention – and fast.

Medics call the hour following a stroke the Golden Hour because stroke patients who receive clot busting drugs within the hour have a much better outcome.

Packing the patient’s head in ice or improvising with bags of peas can help reduce the harmful effects of stroke by cooling the brain, but always take advice from a medical professional at NHS Direct or your GP surgery before improvising any treatments for a patient.

To remember the signs of stroke and the help that is needed quickly, remember FAST – Face, Arm, Speech, Time.

For more information about stroke and brain injury, contact the Stroke Association, or the support organisation for brain injury Headway

Click here for the Brain Injury Compensation Experts

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