Head injury is any harm to the brain, skull, scalp in the form of swelling, broken blood vessels, or nerve damage. These injuries range from minor injuries such as bumps to severe injuries like traumatic brain injury (TB1), depending on the extent of the damage caused by an object.
A head injury can either be closed or open (penetrating). In closed head injury, there is no impairment to the skull, while in open head injury; the damage penetrates into the skull, thus entering the brain.
Did you know?
In case of serious brain traumatic injuries, doctors perform surgeries to repair the skull. After surgery, mostly people need to spend some time in rehabilitation to get back to their normal life.
Let’s dig into the details.
Causes of head injury:
There can be numerous causes of head injury. The most common injuries occur due to accidents in automobiles, on bikes, or while crossing roads. Likewise, you may experience a head injury when you fall or when you are playing sports. Generally, these injuries are caused due to blows to the head. On the other hand, some head injuries occur due to violence or child abuse––head shaken. In all cases, early treatment is crucial, therefore keeping small travel kits in the car for administering first aid in an emergency when you are out and about could be a wise move.
Types of Head Injuries:
Hemorrhage refers to uncontrolled bleeding. A brain hemorrhage is due to arteries that burst, causing swelling and bleeding into surrounding tissue. Brain hemorrhage may be intracerebral or subarachnoid. In intracerebral hemorrhage, bleeding occurs within a victim’s brain tissue. While in the subarachnoid hemorrhage, bleeding takes place in areas around your brain.
In some conditions, it may form blood clots known as a hematoma. If blood clots occur in the brain it may lead to permanent brain damage.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that occurs due to trauma or activity–– in form of a bump. It also occurs due to sudden blow to the head that was hard enough to move the skull against the brain causing shaking of the brain. As a result of a concussion, a person may lose his consciousness for a few seconds to minutes.
Our brain is enclosed in a bony structure called the skull. Skull fracture, as the name shows, is damage to the skull which may occur due to breakage of the bones located inside the head. These bones fragments penetrate the brain, hence, resulting in cerebral lacerations.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
The diffuse axonal injury, also known as the shear injury, is one of the most dangerous forms of brain injury. In this injury, damage takes place to brain cells, and bleeding does not occur.
Axons or nerve fibers responsible for conducting messages from the nerve cell are ruptured––resulting in damage to the brain cells or giving rise to other serious complications. Permanent damage or death can occur as a result of diffuse axonal injury.
Symptoms of Head Injury:
Symptoms of the head injury may develop immediately after an accident or may take some time to appear. It depends upon the extent of damage that results from an accident and may range from mild to extreme symptoms.
Minor head injury symptoms may include:
- Lightheadedness or faint
- Blurred sight
Mild head injuries symptoms may include:
- Loss of consciousness ranging from few seconds to minutes
- Memory loss
- Concentration problems
- Drowsiness or feeling lethargic to awake
- Nausea or vomiting
Severe head injuries symptoms may include a mix of minor or moderate injuries:
- Loss of consciousness
- Weakness in arm or leg
- Repeated vomiting
- Severe headache
- Bruising around the eyes or ear
- Clear fluid leaking from the nose or ear
- Dilated pupil
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal bleeding or low pulse rate
It’s essential to seek professional medical help when you get a head injury, even if you are experiencing minor symptoms. Physicians will diagnose the head injury after examining your symptoms and performing the following tests.
Diagnosis of head injury:
X-ray is one of the most useful methods to diagnose a head injury. Electromagnetic waves are used to create images of tissues, organs bones in black and white onto film. However, to go deep into detail to examine the depth of brain injury, doctors perform CT scan or MRI to have a clear picture of the damage.
A computerized tomography (CT) scan uses X-ray and computer processing to produce cross-sectional images of tissues, blood vessels, and organs within your body. It gives you more detailed analyses of head injuries. Physicians use a CT scan to see if swelling, bleeding, skull fractures or brain injury may have occurred.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging ( MRI) is a technique in which a doctor uses computer processing techniques to obtain images of organs, tissues, bone, and other internal structures using a magnetic field, radiofrequency pulses. Several techniques, like diffusion-weighted imaging, diffusion tensor, or spectroscopy, helps examine the internal head injury.
An electroencephalogram is a technique in which physicians determine the brain’s electrical activity with the help of electrodes attached to the scalp. If EEG results are abnormal, then it’s a sign of abnormal bleeding (hemorrhage), brain tumor, or cerebral infarction ( hindrance to blood flow).
Treatment of head injury:
Head injury treatment varies from how severe an injury a person gets and how it was caused. After you have been diagnosed with head injury, the next step is to get proper treatment. Your doctor will customize the treatment plan depending upon the type of injury you sustain and its symptoms.
People generally place ice packs as first aid treatment that can help in reducing swelling. However, it’s essential to seek proper medical attention even in case of minor damages. Remember, if it is left untreated, it may lead to severe problems.
While there are most likely chances that doctors treat minor injuries with medications. They may recommend using acetaminophen ( Tylenol) when you only experience pain as a symptom. However, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen ( Advil) or aspirin ( Bayer) should not be used as it can worsen bleeding.
Likewise, doctors suggest anti-seizure medications or diuretics only in case of severe brain injury. But they may recommend Diuretics to reduce some of the pressure.
What Can We Do To Prevent Head Injury?
We have always heard that prevention is better than cure. We cannot eradicate the possibility of getting head injuries, but we can take precautions to overcome it.
Always wear helmets while riding a bike or cycles, take precautions while playing sports, use seatbelts while driving vehicles, do not drive while consuming drugs or alcohol, and much more. All these things can protect you from a head injury.
You should monitor yourself after regular intervals, whether your symptoms are getting better or worse. Talk to your doctor; get yourself hospitalized, in case it’s getting worse.