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Episode 121 S3-40

Head Injuries in a Long Term Survival Situation


Special Guest:

The Walls of Freedom Ch 40

~Dr. Ryan Chamberlin~

As The Walls of Freedom continues Erika finds herself in a sticky situation while trying to obtain more legal information. Here to discuss treating head injuries in a long-term survival situation is Dr. Ryan Chamberlin, author of The Prepper Pages.

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The first thing you need to assess with a head injury is whether the person is conscious or not. If they are unconscious you can't ask them questions about what happened and if their neck hurts. The neck is a major concern. If it is fractured and the neck moves fragments into the spine it can sever the spinal cord causing permanent paralysis. The neck must be stabilized until a collar can be applied. Normally the patient would go to the hospital and receive x-rays. 


If the patient is conscious but has a laceration, put pressure on it to stop the bleeding. It's going to bleed A LOT. It can be stitched up. Limit the patient's movement to limit brain swelling. Wake up the patient every hour for six hours and then every four after that. Check for changes in mental status. Use a flashlight to check for eye dilation. One pupil may get very large, indicating that the nerve has popped off the brain stem. If there is a change in mental status you will need to find a doctor. If you suspect extreme blood pooling is happening in the brain a doctor may want to drill a hole in the skull to remove pressure. Do not give this patient Aspirin or Advil! Tylenol is okay.

In the long term if you've been waking them all night the next day they will be very groggy. If in two to three days things aren't back to normal, this can indicate a traumatic brain injury.  PTSD or similar psychological changes may take place. If the patients had a lot of concussions over a long period of time, problems can arise as well. 


There are some special items you may want to pack in your go bag:

  • A c-collar

  • Flashlight

  • Tylenol

  • Sutures but if you don't have them, superglue or a stapler

You can suture this injury but stitching was only designed to decrease scar formation and help the wound heal quicker. Nature will leave it open and heal itself from the bottom up. If you develop a scab leave it alone, unless you can see puss underneath. If you are concerned about redness surrounding the injury mark it with a pen to track it's growth. As long as it does not grow, you are okay. If the wound edges can be brought together with no tension, you can superglue skin to skin over the laceration. Do not get superglue in the wound. The body can't heal with plastic in the way.

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The Walls of Freedom Ch 40

~Dr. Ryan Chamberlin~

Dr. Chamberlin was born and raised near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington State. After graduating from Washington State University he attended the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific in Pomona California, and in 1995, graduated as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery. During his post-doctoral training he became interested in Survival Medicine and in developing a way of quickly training preppers to become self-sufficient medics. In the years since he has authored four books on DIY medicine, his first being The Prepper Pages: A Surgeon's Guide to Scavenging the Necessary Items for a Medical Kit, and Putting Them to Use While Bugging Out. Dr. Chamberlin is a Professor of Biomedicine living in Portland Oregon. He has written four guides on survival medicine, and blogs on a number of subjects including emergency preparedness, Wilderness Medicine, and First Aid kit building.

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