First Aid merit badge 4B. Describe the symptoms, possible complications and demonstrate proper procedures for treating injuries to the head, neck, and back.
Explain what measures should be taken to reduce the possibility of further complicating injuries to the head, neck and back.
The head, neck and spine contain two organs essential for life: the brain and spinal cord.
If the brain or spinal cord are injured, paralysis or death may occur.
To spot a head, neck or back injury, look for:
If the victim is conscious, more symptoms may be apparent:
- Signs of a broken bone in the head or spine (swelling, tenderness, bent joints).
- Signs of an injury on the head or along the spine. For example, if the victim was riding a bike,
look at his helmet for signs of an impact. Look at his skin for scrapes or bruises that could indicate
- Confusion or inability to remember basic facts (name, date, location).
- Slurred speech.
- Lightheadedness or dizziness.
- Uneven pupil dilation.
If the victim falls from a height over their own head, always assume a head, neck or back injury has occurred.
When in doubt, assume a head, neck or back injury has occurred.
Treating a head, neck or back injury is impossible in the field. The best action to take is to keep the
injury from becoming worse. To do this, the victim must remain absolutely still and his head, neck and
back must be immobilized. This is best done by simply holding the victim's head and neck.
The victim should not be moved unless absolutely necessary (i.e. to remove him from danger). Otherwise,
all other first aid must be done while the victim lies in the position he was found in.
Seek medical assistance immediately.
©2005 Sam Clippinger / samc (at) troop50 (dot) org
Last updated: 12/9/2005