Head Injury

Types of Head Injuries
 

Coma

The word coma refers to a state of unconsciousness. The unconscious state has variability and may be very deep, where no amount of stimulation will cause the person to respond or, in other cases, a person who is in a coma may move, make noise or respond to pain, but is unable to obey simple, one-step commands such as "hold up two fingers" or "stick out your tongue." The process of recovery from coma is a continuum along which a person gradually regains consciousness.

For people who sustain severe injury to the brain and are comatose, recovery is variable. The more severe the injury, the more likely the result will include permanent impairment.

The Glasgow Coma Scale usually is administered upon admission to the hospital or by paramedic first responders to establish a baseline level of consciousness, motor function, and eye findings. Frequent evaluations of the patient are imperative to help assess neurologic improvement or deterioration.

Brain-imaging technologies, particularly computerized axial tomography (CT or CAT scan), can offer important immediate information about a person's status. The purpose of performing an emergency CT scan is to rule out a large mass lesion (hematoma), which compresses the brain and requires immediate surgical removal. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is used in a more elective setting to image subtle changes that are not picked up by CT.

 

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on the extent of damage to the brain. Mild cases (mild traumatic brain injury, or mTBI) may result in a brief change in mental state or consciousness, while severe cases may result in extended periods of unconsciousness, coma, or even death.

 

Concussions:

Read about concussions

 

General Prevention Tips for Head Injuries:

  • Supervise younger children at all times, and do not let them use sporting equipment or play sports unsuitable for their age.
  • Buy and use helmets or protective head gear approved by the ASTM for specific sports 100 percent of the time.
  • Do not dive in water less than 12 feet deep or in above-ground pools.
  • Follow all rules at water parks and swimming pools.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the sport.
  • Do not wear any clothing that can interfere with your vision.
  • Do not participate in sports when you are ill or very tired.
  • Obey all traffic signals, and be aware of drivers when cycling, skateboarding or rollerblading.
  • Avoid uneven or unpaved surfaces when cycling, skateboarding or rollerblading.
  • Perform regular safety checks of sports fields, playgrounds and equipment.
  • Discard and replace sporting equipment or protective gear that is damaged.

 

Information courtesy of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons

 

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