Injuries involving the face or head are always considered serious. When the face becomes injured in an accident, the first aider should carefully assess the victim for a myriad of problems. Many of these injuries are obvious while some are not easily recognizable. Careful assessment is essential in emergency care for facial injuries. Some of the injuries to the face that you may encounter include:
Beneath the skin of the face and scalp is a rich network of blood vessels. Any cuts or wounds may bleed profusely, even if there are no major vessels severed. Although clotting is usually rapid and control is not a major problem, facial wounds that involve major blood vessels can be quickly life-threatening. Providing the right emergency care for facial injuries can do so much in preventing fatal outcomes.
Breathing problems may also result from facial injuries. It can either be due to airway obstruction or problems with the breathing center in the brain. Check the victim’s mouth for possible foreign objects or oral cavity damage. In case the victim bleeds profusely or vomits, place him on his side, with his head tilted back and turned so the mouth tilts downward unless spinal injury is suspected. Emergency care for facial injuries that result in breathing problems includes rescue breathing and CPR. Taking a basic first aid course is crucial in order to learn these life saving skills.
Severe trauma to the face can lead to skull or facial bone fractures. This is more commonly seen in car accidents where the victim’s head hits the dashboard or steering wheel, or in accidents that involve impact to the face. Fractures or indentations in the skull can severely affect the brain. In some cases, it can lead to internal bleeding ultimately affecting the breathing center in the brain. The problem with skull fracture is that they are not immediately apparent, unless there is visible indentation. Usually, fractures to the face and skull are detected only after diagnostic tests are done, particularly x-ray.
Spinal (Cervical) Injury
Note that any injury above the collar bones, including facial injuries, may cause injury to the neck or cervical spine. If a victim is unconscious, or the mechanism of injury leads you to suspect spinal injury, consider the case as a spinal cord injury and treat
accordingly. Emergency care for facial injuries with injury to the spine includes immobilizing the head and neck. Make sure to keep the head, neck and spine is in proper alignment. Different immobilization techniques can be learned through first aid training courses.
While waiting for help to arrive, continue to monitor the victim especially for problems with breathing or deterioration. Provide reassurance and stay with the victim.