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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Head injury first aid

Whakarauoratanga wharanga upoko


Phone 111 for an ambulance if someone has had a knock on the head and:

Stay with them until the ambulance arrives. If they become unconscious, follow these instructions.

Any head injury can be serious, although most are mild. Concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury. It's important to remember that signs of a head injury can show up 24 to 48 hours after the injury.

How to tell if someone has a head injury

head injuryIf someone has had a knock to their head, they may have obvious signs of an injury to their head or face such as bleeding and bruising. Other signs of a head injury include:

Helping someone who has a head injury

Getting medical help

It's best to get the person checked by a doctor after any head injury. This is especially important if they have a severe headache, had any loss of consciousness or have a concussion.

See a doctor urgently if their symptoms get worse or if they develop new symptoms.

ACC has more advice about how to recognise concussion on the sports field.

Also follow the instructions in the ACC leaflet on caring for your child immediately after a head injury.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed December 2022.


See also:

Head injuries in adults

Head injuries in children

Page reference: 286092

Review key: HIFAD-141030