Ice Packs for Head Injuries

So apparently if you use an ice pack on head injuries, you’ll cause permanent brain damage, right? One facebook fan and past student of ours asks:

“? About head bonks…
Ice or no?! I was told no because it makes the bruising/bump spread inwards instead! True or no?!”

The same question came up in class this weekend and it probably comes up in at least half of our childcare classes. So….

Ice Packs for Head Injuries – yes or no?

First time I heard this, it was confusing. How could an ice pack make that head injuries somehow punch through a person’s (very hard) skull? Did we mention that, anatomically, the skull is the strongest bone in the body? Probably not, but there you go – it has something important to protect after all.Universal Ice Pack - Boo-Boo Pac™ Ice Pack

So how does putting an ice pack on our kids head injuries lead to permanent damage? It doesn’t and I was confused. Especially after hearing that this information comes from people we’d normally trust to at least have some idea about these things.

Head Injuries are not all Skull Fractures

So I got to thinking – why would ice packs cause problems? Well the answer would seem to be this: “What if there was more than just a regular bump? What if they head injuries we’re talking about are skull fractures, and the ice pack is held firmly in place?”

Skull showing ball-peen hammer trauma, 1950sWell then, of course putting pressure onto a fractured skull (with an ice pack or anything else) would cause a worsening of these head injuries. Don’t squish a skull fracture with anything – not even an ice pack!

So, Ice Packs for Head Injuries – yes or no?

Now we seem to have a better answer – ice packs are ok for bruises and bumps – in fact they’re the recommended treatment. So when your active dude gets a bump on the head, go for it.

Ice packs are not OK for skull fractures – pressing anything into the brain isn’t good for it; bits of broken skull and ice packs are included in that.

And that’s the answer I gave in class this week, and on many other occasions.

About Tony Howarth

Tony is a First Aid & CPR Instructor Trainer with Sea 2 Sky Safety Training Services and the company founder. Tony started with the British Red Cross in 1994. Has acted as first aid attendant for hundreds of events & treated many hundreds of people as a result. He is experienced in training a wide range of courses. He previously worked as an ambulance attendant with the British Red Cross. He is now in BC as a first aid instructor, and an instructor trainer (one who trains others to become instructors) Finally, Tony works at UBC Hospital as a pharmacist when not busy training safety
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2 Responses to Ice Packs for Head Injuries

  1. Pingback: Synovial Joints and Back Pain | www.w55w-Only Fresh Content

  2. Pingback: Let head injuries sleep or keep them awake? | Safety un-Limited

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