MUSCULOSKELETAL TRAUMA: Head, Skull, and Face:

Skull Fractures:          

May be obvious = dented, depressed, open.
The skull is thick in front, top, back, and thin on the sides.
The most dangerous are temporal area fractures, because the middle meningeal artery may be severed causing bleeding into the skull.
There can be dramatic superficial swelling = hematoma, usually harmless.
May have “Battle’s sign” (ecchymosis behind & below the ears), which indicates basal skull fracture, very dangerous. 

The severity of the injury is deteremined by the level of consciousness.

AVPU Scale                or         Glascow Coma Scale (GCS)
A-awake                                  Eye Opening (1-4)
V-verbal                                  Motor Response (1-6)
P-pain                                      Verbal Response (1-5)
U-unresonsive             (GCS < 8 = severe head injury) 

The danger is bleeding/swelling inside the cranium that can cause increasing ICP. 

Signs of increasing ICP:
Change in Level of Consciousness:
They become irritable, angry as their LOC decreases down the AVPU scale.
Respiration rate and depth will increase, hyperventilation.
Heart Rate will slow, bradycardia, as the systolic blood pressure increases.
Blood Pressure: The systolic blood pressure will increase faster than the diastolic causing a widening of the pulse pressure (systolic – diastolic pressures).
Vomiting can occur as the ICP increases.
In severe head injuries cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) may leak out of the nose, ears, or wounds. 

Evacuate at first signs of increasing ICP.
Cover wounds with dressings, being careful not to depress fragments.
Examine spine carefully for possible injury associated with the head trauma.  

Facial Fractures:
Orbit injuries – check for “Blowout fx”, one eye cannot look up.
Le Fort fxs” of the face will have a loose hard palate or maxilla.
Fractured nose, may bleed, easy to control, cosmetic injury.
Monitor for runny nose that will not stop, can indicate leaking CSF.
Fractured jaw, teeth will not fit properly, cannot easily open/close, check TMJs.                 
Avulsed teeth, replace into socket or transport in patient’s own spit.
Greatest concern with facial injuries is the airway.

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