A head injury is any trauma that causes your scalp, skull or brain harm. Often, the term head injury is used interchangeably with brain injury, but not all head injuries cause detriment to your brain.
Brain and head injuries are divided into various categories. The following are some of the different ways a noggin injury is broken down.
A head injury is said to be either open or closed. An open head injury means your skull bone has sustained a fracture (i.e gunshot wound), whereas with closed there is no breakage (i.e. bump on the head).
Brain damage that is not due to a genetic or congenital disorder, but instead caused by an event after birth is referred to as acquired brain injury. This type of insult is further divided into non-traumatic and traumatic. Examples of sources for nontraumatic brain injury are:
- brain tumor
- brain infection
- near drowning
- anoxia, hypoxia
- substance abuse
- degenerative disease
Traumatic brain injuries commonly result from circumstances such as accidents, falls, assaults, shaken baby and bullets.
A brain injury may be further sorted more specifically into:
- skull fracture
- cerebral edema
- brain hemorrhage
- penetrating wound
- contusion ~ brain bruise
- hematoma ~ blood vessel damage
- concussion ~ most common type of traumatic brain injury
Another frequent insult to your brain is lack of oxygen, which causes brain cells to die fairly quickly. This type of brain injury is often seen in near drowning, heart attack or significant blood loss from other injuries.
The more serious traumatic brain injuries can produce prolonged or irreversible brain damage. Some symptoms of a head injury evidencing some sort of damage are:
- stiff neck
- dazed feeling
- blurred vision
- fatigue, lethargy
- nausea, vomiting
- muscle weakness
- bad taste in mouth
- slow breathing rate
- depression, anxiety
- blood pressure drop
- loss of consciousness
- restlessness, agitation
- problems with speech, language
- sleep pattern, behavioral, mood changes
- sensation, hearing, vision, taste, smell impairment
- trouble remembering, concentrating, paying attention, thinking
Some of your symptoms may occur immediately, while others can take hours or days to develop. Anytime you experience some type of traumatic brain injury and any of these symptoms begin to materialize, then you need to seek health care attention ASAP. This applies even if your head injury doesn’t generate a drop of blood.
It is vital after a head injury to prevent further damage or complications. Initially, it’ll be important is to keep air and blood flowing to ensure oxygen is making the rounds. So, this may entail CPR, emergency surgery, oxygen support, fluid drainage, etc.
Some of the other complications that may occur with a traumatic brain injury include:
- severe pain
- pulmonary edema
- pressure skin sores
- multiple organ failure
- aspiration pneumonia
- recurrent bladder infections
- intracranial cavity infections
- life-threatening systemic infections
- increased metabolism causing muscle atrophy
Some of these have a greater risk of arising if immobility is involved, which may be the case during a coma, persistent vegetative state, locked-in syndrome and brain death. Also, lifelong problems can develop after a traumatic brain injury, for instance Parkinson’s disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Although your brain will attempt to repair itself after a brain injury, achieving total restoration is less likely after a severe injury. In addition, appropriate treatment will play a crucial role in your after head injury rehabilitation.