Characters climbing cliffs with broken arms or getting knocked out for an hour or so and then running around like nothing happened, bug me. It doesn’t take much longer to get it right, and I’ve found that getting doing the research to get it right can often lead to whole new story possibilities I hadn’t thought of before.
I’m not any sort of medical expert - research for this article has come from a variety of sources from medical texts to personal experience – (I’m just a teeny bit accident prone…) I do historical reenactment and a large part of information here comes from the ‘traumatic injury’ (or ‘the nasty things that can happen to you in combat’ information we give the public and new members to make them go ‘urggh , I’m glad this isn’t for real’.
There’s a lot of ‘relatively’ and ‘probably’ in this article because everyone reacts differently to injury.
Oh and before I start - one pet peeve… ‘laceration’ does not mean ‘a very bad cut’ – it is a term for a specific type of wound caused by the tearing rather than the slicing of the skin. It’s the sort of cut you get from being hit with a blunt object (or a fist).
For a normal, reasonably healthy adult the following reading are ‘normal’. Some variation is usual and what’s normal for one person may be abnormal for another.
Pulse rate between 60-100 beats per minute. A fitter person will have a rate towards the slower end of the margin and a child or young person will have a naturally high rate. Any drastic increase or decrease in pulse rate is cause for concern.
Blood pressure 120-140 over 70-90. This can vary with the time of day, amount of stress and a number of other factors. High blood pressure is not usually immediately dangerous but can cause long term damage. Low blood pressure can cause faintness, dizziness and blackouts and is usually a sign that there is an underlying problem to be treated.
Body Temperature 36°C (98.6°F) to 37.5°C (99.5F). Relatively minor variations in temperature are cause for concern.
Reactions to Injury
Everyone is unique and will react differently. Some people yell and scream when they are hurt, others will keep quiet. Some will insist that they’re perfectly fine and be annoyed by attempts to help. Some people are very squeamish and find the idea of how badly they’re hurt more traumatic than the actual injury. Find out how the character you’re writing an injury for reacts and stick to it unless you have very good reason not to.
Can be caused by pain, fear, surprise, or other emotional stress and is usually not a major problem as long as they wake up within a few seconds. Immediately after fainting a person’s pulse would be very slow but recover quickly.
Can follow many injuries and can be as dangerous or more so than the actual injury. It is not just a case of someone suffering from a nasty fright because they got hurt.
Pulse and respiration abnormally fast or slow,
Pale, clammy skin,
Someone suffering from shock should be lain down and kept warm.