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Minor Head Injury Can Get Worse Rapidly – What Experts Say

A minor head injury can potentially worsen rapidly, and it’s important to be vigilant about monitoring for any signs of deterioration. While many head injuries are mild and may not immediately show severe symptoms, there are cases where complications can arise.

Some signs that a head injury may be worsening include:

  1. Worsening headache: If the headache becomes more severe or persistent over time.
  2. Increased drowsiness or difficulty waking up: If the person becomes increasingly difficult to arouse or stays excessively drowsy.
  3. Vomiting: Persistent or worsening vomiting can be a concerning sign.
  4. Confusion or irritability: Any noticeable changes in behavior, confusion, or increased irritability.
  5. Seizures: If the individual experiences seizures, it is a serious complication that requires immediate medical attention.
  6. Weakness or numbness: Any new or increasing weakness or numbness, particularly on one side of the body.
  7. Deterioration of coordination or balance: If the person becomes unsteady on their feet or experiences difficulty with coordination.
  8. Visual disturbances: Changes in vision, such as blurred vision or sensitivity to light.
  9. Clear fluid or blood draining from the nose or ears: This may indicate a skull fracture and requires urgent medical attention.

If someone has sustained a head injury and experiences any of these symptoms, it is crucial to seek prompt medical attention. While most head injuries are mild and resolve without complications, it’s essential not to underestimate the potential seriousness of any head injury, as some complications may develop later.

Seek medical advice to ensure proper evaluation

If in doubt, it is always safer to seek medical advice to ensure proper evaluation and management of the injury. The severity of a head injury can sometimes be difficult to assess without professional medical evaluation and imaging studies.

If you or anyone you know has been injured in an accident, be it a car accident or a slip in the driveway, it is essential to get yourself checked for any injuries to the brain. Experts say that even seemingly minor injuries can be serious.

Take the case of actress Natasha Richardson who was injured when she fell during a skiing lesson in a resort in Canada. She seemed perfectly fine after the incident and was enjoying her time with acquaintances. However, after returning to the room, she suffered from severe headache and was admitted to a hospital in close proximity. Her condition deteriorated and she had to be airlifted to a larger hospital in Montreal. Later the actress was flown to another hospital in New York but succumbed to her injuries.

Neurosurgeons and physicians call this the “talk and die” syndrome. The patient appears deceptively normal in the initial stages, but there is bleeding in the brain and the classic symptoms associated with brain bleeding appear only later. It may take anywhere from a few hours to a few days for the symptoms to appear, depending on the type and extent of injury.

Dura mater is a hard skin layer between our skull and the brain

Dura mater is a hard skin layer between our skull and the brain. If an artery associated with the brain gets ruptured, it can release blood into the dura mater. This blood exerts pressure on our brain, causing it to swell up. This in turn results in a reduction in blood supply to the brain. This is called epidural hemorrhage. Graffagnino, the director of Duke University Medical Center’s Neurosciences Critical Care Unit says that most cases of epidural hemorrhage are associated with fracture of the temporal bone, located just above the ears. An artery runs in this region. Fracture of the temporal bone can result in bleeding from this artery. Even a small accident can cause such injuries. This is particularly true in case of people taking blood thinners since it increased risk of hemorrhages.

bleeding can exert immense pressure on our brain

Graffagnino describes another kind of bleed in the brain, called subdural bleed. In this case, the bleed develops between the brain and the dura. This kind of bleeding can exert immense pressure on our brain and practically squeeze the brain. It can take several days for the symptoms of brain injury to appear. Sometimes, accidents can result in bruising of the brain. This does not any of the classic symptoms of brain injury, nor does any damage appear on CAT scans. As time progresses, the nerves surrounding the bruise begin to stretch resulting in axonal injury.

These facts stress the importance of getting oneself evaluated after car accidents or sports injuries. It is also essential to be aware of the classic symptoms of brain trauma including nausea, headache, sudden sleepiness, and glossy eyes. Dr Philip Stieg, chair of neurosurgery at NYP/Weil Cornell, says that it is essential to get the patient checked for brain injury even if there is no external injury. Getting to the hospital within a few hours of the incident can help prevent permanent brain damage.

Surgeons may check for signs of brain trauma by examining the pupils

Once at the hospital, surgeons may check for signs of brain trauma by examining the pupils, which is often followed by a question answer session. Questions include asking the patient his or her name and other general information to determine response and cognitive skills. If any sign of brain trauma is observed, it is essential to undergo a CAT scan. In case there is bleeding and swelling of the brain an emergency craniotomy needs to be done. The skull is opened to relieve pressure on the brain and stop bleeding. Brain activity is monitored and the extent of damage analyzed. The patient may have to spend years in cognitive and physical rehabilitation to regain normal brain function.

Experts suggest two things: one is to wear a helmet so as to protect your brain and another is to rush to the hospital and get yourself or your friends evaluated after an accident even if you feel fine. These simple steps may actually help in saving a precious life.

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