Don’t Underestimate Head Injuries

The brain is a very powerful organ and it’s in our best interests to keep it healthy and free from harm as best we can.  Head injuries can be caused by a number of factors and it’s the severity of the injury that will determine your treatment upon being admitted to the emergency department. And post recovery, phisical therapy and wearing a mandoraty head protector.

Bleeding in the brain

Bleeding in the brain can happen in various of the areas and is a great concern in any of them.  However, some are worse than others.  The area between the skull and the outermost brain tissue layer is called the dura.  If bleeding occurs here it’s called an epidural hematoma.  They most often occur from high-pressure bleeding from an artery and are very serious.  If left untreated, it can lead to death within hours.  Surgery is almost always needed to treat these kinds of bleed.  Epidural hematomas are often caused by high-impacts or trauma to the head, near where the larger arteries are.

If bleeding occurs outside the brain tissue, underneath the dural layer of tissue, it’s usually because of a subdural bleed.  These are generally bleeds of low-pressure direct from the vein.  Depending on the size of the bleed, they may be treated surgically.  People aged 60 and over are more likely to experience this type of bleed as the veins in the brain become more taut as we age due to the natural shrinking of the brain.

Bleeding that occurs inside the brain is normally divided into two categories depending on the location:  subarachnoid or intraparenchymal.  These bleeds are caused by trauma, and unless extremely large, no surgery will be necessary.

Being on certain drugs including blood thinners like Xarelto, Plavix, Coumadin or Lovenox can increase your risk of excessive bleeding following an injury.  One thing that should be noted is that just because all of these bleeds can be detected by a CT scan, small bleeds do sometimes get missed.  Also, some bleeds are delayed for several hours after the initial injury occurs.  While this doesn’t automatically warrant immediate admission to hospital, if symptoms do worsen after being discharged, return to the emergency department for further evaluation.

Concussion

A concussion is the name given to a whole group of symptoms including nausea, dizziness, headache, difficulty in focusing, loss of balance and coordination, and light sensitivity.  Concussion is different to a bleed on the brain in that it can not be picked up by a CT scan.  There is not set timescales as to how long symptoms for a concussion will last.  For most people, the symptoms will be gone within a few days, but in rare cases, could last weeks or even months. The most important thing you need to do following a concussion is to rest your brain as the last thing you want to do is injure it further.

If you do have to take a trip to the emergency department following an injury or trauma to the head, rest be assured that there are guidelines in place (such as the Canadian CT head rule) that will help medical professionals determine whether or not a CT scan is required.

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