Breaking down traumatic brain injuries
On January 8th, Bob Saget, star of “Full House” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” went to bed after performing a comedy set in Florida and never woke up. It’s been determined that at some point that day or night he accidentally hit his head. Tragically, he must have thought all was fine and did not seek medical treatment.
The idea of a superficial head injury leading to death is likely unsettling, but not every bump on the head will result in a traumatic brain injury. The physicians at CMC Primary Care want you to know more about these types of injuries, what symptoms you should be concerned about, and when you should seek emergency care.
The CDC reported 61,000 traumatic brain injury-related deaths in 2019.
Head injuries are pretty common. All of us, at some point in time, have hit our heads pretty hard. When it happens, you might get a bump or bruise but other than that, you’ll be fine because your skull provides adequate protection for your brain.
Keep in mind that your brain is made of soft tissues, connecting fibers, and blood vessels. Your skull surrounds this vulnerable organ to protect it. A very hard hit to the head can bruise the brain, tear tissues and fibers, and cause bleeding. These types of injuries can result in swelling of the brain and/or cause a buildup of pressure that can dangerously compress vital areas of the brain and the nerves responsible for basic functions. If this type of injury is left untreated, it can have long-term, disabling effects and also be fatal.
Be vigilant after hitting your head
After you sustain a substantial head injury, make sure you tell someone. If you are particularly worried about your injury, call your doctor or visit your local hospital. With head injuries, it’s best to err on the side of caution and make sure that someone is monitoring you and making sure that your health is not deteriorating.
It’s important to note that if you are on blood thinners or an older person, you are more at risk of experiencing severe effects from a head injury and are more at risk for bleeding in the brain.
What signs and symptoms can indicate a traumatic brain injury?
If you lose consciousness immediately after hitting your head or if you don’t remember the event that caused you to hit your head, you need to seek immediate medical attention. It’s also important to look out for any type of confusion.
In the aftermath of a head injury, there are other signs and symptoms that you and those monitoring you should look for.
- A headache that won’t go away or continues to worsen
- Nausea and vomiting
- Numbness or weakness in the limbs
- Loss of motor skills, balance, and coordination
- Trouble speaking or slurred speech
- Tiredness or an inability to wake up
- Convulsions or seizures
- Agitation, abnormal behavior, and confusion
- Issues with memory and concentration
Use your brain to save your brain
When it comes to head injuries, it’s better to be safe than sorry. We tend to minimize our injuries, brush things off, and move on especially if there is not much visible evidence of a wound. Don’t do that if you experience a severe blow to the head. There is a window of opportunity that could save you from a life of disabilities and even death.
Learn more about traumatic brain injuries from the CDC.
If you feel you are having a medical emergency, immediately call 9-1-1.