Date issued: January 2018
For review: January 2020
Ref: C-168/Neuro/JF/Head injury discharge advice v2
This Booklet is intended to provide general information about recovery following a head injury. It has been written to answer some of the questions asked by people who have had a head injury, as well as for their families and carers.
All injuries vary in severity and each person can be affected differently. It is important that you speak to the doctor, nurse or therapist who is looking after you before you are discharged. If you have any concerns after your discharge, speak with your own G.P, since they are in a position to offer advice and information to meet your own specific needs.
What are the main causes of head injury?
Emergency departments see many people who have had a head injury. Most are found to have minor head injuries and the recovery is uncomplicated. However, some people will have more significant problems. The majority of head injured patients have been involved in an accident, most commonly a fall or a motor vehicle accident.
Assessment of the severity of a head injury and the subsequent treatment can be made more difficult by the fact that some patients will have recently consumed drugs or alcohol.
In addition to a head injury the brain can be injured or damaged as a result of many other conditions. These include brain haemorrhage (bleed into the brain), stroke, infection, tumours and other neurological diseases.
Common Effects of Minor Head Injury
While most people recover quickly following a head injury you may experience some of the following symptoms over the next few days and weeks, which don’t require a return to hospital:
- Difficulties thinking and problem solving
- Feelings of dizziness
- Easily tired
- Sexual / Fertility problems
- Hearing loss
- Feeling depressed, tearful or anxious
- Sleep disturbance
- Memory problems
- Sensitivity to light and/or noise
- Problems with balance
- Impulsivity and self-control problems
In most cases the above symptoms will resolve themselves within two weeks. If your symptoms get worse you should see your GP or attend the emergency department.
However in some cases they may persist for longer and you should see your GP for a referral to the neuro- rehabilitation multidisciplinary team.
Each person will have their own experience of what they find difficult; it can be a combination of different things.
It may help to write down the five most significant problems since your head injury.
It may also help to talk these through with your family or friends.
On returning home it is important that, if possible, you are accompanied by a responsible adult. While it is unlikely, there is a small risk of complications so it is always better to have company for a few days after discharge. Also ensure that you:
- Have plenty of rest.
- Avoid stressful situations.
- Slowly ease yourself back into normal activities.
- Do not drink alcohol (this will slow your recovery and may put you at risk of seizures).
- Do not take sleeping pills.
- Do not play contact sports (such as rugby, football or netball) for the first three weeks.
- You may need to have a short period to recover before you return to work, gradually phasing in your return to work if necessary.
- Do not drive a car, motorbike, bicycle or operate machinery until you are completely recovered. The doctors may advise you to contact the DVLA or your GP before resuming driving. If you are unsure seek advice from your G.P, particularly if your work involves long time periods at the wheel.
If you are a car driver you should seek advice from your general practitioner or neurosurgeon regarding your fitness to drive. After a significant injury it is the patient's duty to inform the DVLA. Failure to do so will invalidate your car insurance…
Tel: 0300 790 6806
Website: www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring/Driver Licensing/MedicalRulesForDrivers/index.htm
Address: Drivers Medical Group
Swansea SA99 1TU
Useful Contacts before or after you have left hospital
Telephone helpline: 0808 800 2244 or
This is a voluntary charity that helps people who have had a brain injury and their families. They offer a lot of practical help, information and advice and campaign to promote understanding of brain injury.
They look at a wide range of concerns and interests, including information on rights, work and housing issues. Individuals also share their experiences of brain injury. Family members, partners and carers also talk about their experiences.
They have centres in parts of the country where people can meet up. The service can include rehabilitation programmes, carer support, social re-integration, community outreach and respite care, depending on local needs and resources.
If you feel you need help after you leave hospital you can speak to a social worker in the hospital. They have information on benefits, housing and transport.
You can also contact them after you leave hospital for practical help and support.
www.headway.org.uk For information, publications and
other advice from headway.
www.ukabif.org.uk The UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum
‘Head Injury; A practical guide’ by Trevor Powell
‘The Brain Injury Workbook’: Exercises for Cognitive Rehabilitation’ By Trevor Powell and Kit Malia. This workbook contains exercises to improve memory and thinking skills and can be worked through on your own or with family.
‘Living with Brain Injury’ by Philip Fairclough