Compression of the brain – a condition called
cerebral compression – is very serious and
almost invariably requires surgery. Cerebral compression occurs
when there is a build-up of pressure on the brain. This pressure
may be due to one of several different causes, such as an
accumulation of blood within the skull or swelling of injured brain
Cerebral compression is usually caused by a head injury.
However, it can also be due to other causes, such as stroke,
infection, or a brain tumour.
The condition may develop immediately after a head injury, or it
may appear a few hours or even days later. For this reason, you
should always try to find out whether the casualty has a recent
history of a head injury.
- Deteriorating level of response – casualty may become
There may also be:
- history of a recent head injury
- intense headache
- noisy breathing, becoming slow
- slow, yet full and strong pulse
- unequal pupil size
- weakness and/or paralysis down one side of the face of
- high temperature; flushed face
- noticeable change in personality or behaviour, such as
irritability or disorientation.
- To arrange urgent removal of the casualty to hospital.
- Dial 999 for an ambulance.
If the casualty is conscious:
- keep them supported in a comfortable resting position and
- regularly monitor and record vital signs – level of
response, pulse, and breathing – until medical help
If the casualty is unconscious:
- Open the airway using the jaw thrust method and check breathing
- Be prepared to give chest
compressions and rescue breaths if necessary
- If the casualty is breathing, try to maintain the airway in the
position the casualty was found.
These hints are no substitute for thorough knowledge of first
aid! St John Ambulance holds first aid
courses throughout the country.