Protect Your Head or Hurt Your Brain
Use your head to learn the risks, take precautions, and avoid a horrible outcome.
We sometimes joke about our heads: Knock your head against the wall ... Head bashing ... Dropped on your head ... and more. Funny -- except it's no laughing matter.
Even a head injuriy that appears to be mild can have serious, long-term effects, especially when there are repeated injuries.
Dr. Todd Trask, neurosurgeon at the Methodist Neurological Institute of the Methodist Hospital in Houston, says that one of the most common questions after someone hits their head is, “How serious is this bump on my head and should I make an appointment?” The answer, more often that not, is yes.
Dr. Trask explains that head injuries are the result of trauma to the scalp, skull or brain. Concussion, the most common type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), is an injury that occurs after a blow to the head and results in a temporary loss of consciousness.
Moderate or severe traumatic brain injury is more serious than a concussion. A person who suffers a TBI may appear fine after an accident or blow to the head -- but this type of brain injury can be life-threatening because the brain can swell or have bleeding on the surface. If a TBI is not treated properly, irreversible brain damage or death can occur.
It is extremely important that someone who suffers a head injury be monitored closely. Many of the patients Dr. Trask treats at the Methodist Neurological Institute show no signs of brain trauma immediately after experiencing a head injury. It can take a few hours or even days for symptoms of brain injury to appear.
Watch out for these symptoms of brain trauma:
- Swelling at the site of the injury
- Change in consciousness, confusion or unusual behavior
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck or vomiting
- Low breathing rate and drowsiness
- Fluid draining from the nose, mouth or ears
- Inability to move one or more limbs
Acting fast is key when someone suffers a brain injury, says Dr. Trask. The sooner the person with brain trauma receives medical attention, the better the chance for recovery.
As bad as head injury can be, it's even worse when it could have been prevented.
You can significantly reduce the risk of brain trauma by simple but essential safety precautions:
- Always wear a helmet or safety cap when playing sports or participating in an activity that has potential to cause head injury, such as bicycle riding.
- Always wear a seat belt when operating or riding in a motor vehicle.
- When driving with childrean, always make sure they are seated in age-appropriate car seats that are installed properly.
- Avoid direct head-to-head contact in any athletic sport.
For more information from The Methodist Hospital, visit www.tmhni.org or call 713-790-3333. Follow them on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MethodistHosp and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/methodisthospital.