The Dangers of Having Brain or Head Injury

Kids, teens, and adults are all prone to accidents. Accidents happen unexpectedly at anytime and anywhere, with all the types of accidents we may experience our head because it is the most fragile part of our body we need to protect, because it can result to Brain Injury (BI). It can occur in the brain of any living organism, which causes destruction or deterioration of the brain cells. According to the Brain Injury Association of America 52,000 die as a result of traumatic brain injuries and the 5 Million Americans who suffered this injury needed an assistant to perform their daily activities.

There are two types of brain injury:

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) –this is also known as intracranial injury which occurs when an external force traumatically injures the brain, but not all blows to the head can result to TBI. The severity of this injury ranges from “mild” where the injured has a brief change in mental consciousness to “severe” where the injured person experiences a transient period of unconsciousness or amnesia. This type of brain injury may result to short or long-term problems.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) – this is a type of brain injury which is not hereditary (this is a descriptive term for conditions that can be transferred from parent to offspring through their genes) or congenital (is a condition present at birth, that can be inherited or caused by the environment). This type of brain injury is caused by some medical conditions such as encephalitis, aneurysms, anoxia (is the lack of oxygen in the brain caused by drug overdose or a near drowning experience), metabolic disorders or brain tumors.

General causes of brain injury:

  • Vehicle or Traffic Accidents

This accident is said to be the 2nd leading cause of traumatic head injuries among all age groups. During the accident, we may bump our heads on the windshield, dashboard or on the steering wheel. This can lead to open or closed brain injuries. We can also get a concussion (is the temporary unconsciousness caused by the blow to the head) or scalp injury because of this accident.

  • Gun Shot Wounds

This can cause brain injury especially when the bullet penetrates the skull and enters the brain; this can damage the blood vessels and cause bleeding or blood clots.

  • Falling and hitting the head

This is the leading cause of brain injuries in both the U.S. and Tennessee; children ages 0-14 are very prone to have brain injuries due to falls, and 50% of these cases lead to traumatic brain injuries while for our people older than 65, falls can cause them 62% of having a traumatic brain injury.

  • Shaking Violently

This is a common cause of brain trauma for infants and most young children because when a child is shaken vigorously their brain will violently strike the skull that will lead to swelling of the brain, internal bleeding, and can detach the retinas that could lead to blindness, mental retardation and death; this is called Shaken baby syndrome.

  • Assault (physical attack done by others)

This can lead to brain injury; being kicked, punched or struck in the head can cause a concussion, open or closed brain injury, but the damage varies depending on the force of the assault.

  • Being struck by an object

This is the second leading cause of traumatic brain injuries among children 0-14 years old, especially if they are struck with a heavy or pointy object.

Symptoms of having a brain injury:

MILD HEAD INJURY

  • The injured person has no ability to stand or balance
  • They are confused and can easily be confused
  • Their heads have small cuts or bumps
  • They suffer from severe headache
  • They can experience nausea
  • They could experience a temporary loss of consciousness
  • They may have ringing in the ears

SEVERE HEAD INJURY

  • They could have deep cuts or wounds in the scalp
  • They may also have loss of consciousness
  • They have abnormal eye movements
  • They cannot focus their eyes
  • They have no control over their muscles
  • They may experience persistent vomiting
  • They can have seizures (is the uncontrollable activity in the brain that can produce convulsions, thought disturbances, and minor physical signs)

Treatments for brain or head injury:

The treatment of head injuries depend on the type of injury sustained by the individual. For patients who suffer from minor head injuries, they may need to be observed for any symptoms. If they have headaches they need to be given pain medications. If they have nausea and vomiting they are required to have medications to control these symptoms. And a family member should monitor the patient’s condition; they will be taught on what symptoms to watch for because any changes in the patient’s condition must be reported to the doctor immediately.

For severe head injuries, it must be treated in a hospital to minimize the risk for any complications. When the patient arrives in the emergency department of a hospital, the doctors will prioritize any injuries that may be life-threatening. Once the patient is stable, he/she will go under different kinds of tests to determine the severity of the injury. The patient will undergo observation and if the condition worsens, the patient needs to have a CT SCAN or Computerized Tomography Scan. If the scan shows any bleeding or swelling in the brain, they will have reduce the Intracranial Pressure level. This involves the insertion of a thin wire on the spaces between the scalp and the brain, through a small hole that is drilled into the scalp. If the Neurosurgeon finds any signs of hemorrhage, hematomas, cerebral contusions and skull fracture, the patient needs to undergo surgery for urgent treatment. Craniotomy is a surgical operation carried out to treat severe head injuries. This involves making a hole in the skull to access the brain. Once the surgeon have access to the brain, they will remove any clots that are formed and repair any damaged blood vessels; when the bleeding has stopped, they will replace the piece of skull with a small metal screw and plates.