Understanding head injuries – Harvard Health

Ski season is right here, and I’m reminded of the story of Natasha Richardson (Liam Neeson’s spouse), who tragically died of a head harm whereas snowboarding and not using a helmet in 2007. Right here within the emergency division, we see many sufferers with concern for head accidents. We issue what might have prompted the harm, your age, what we discover after we look at you, the timing of the incident, the medicines you’re taking, in addition to another components, when deciding whether or not to do a CT scan or admit you to the hospital.

When a head harm causes bleeding within the mind

Ms. Richardson died of an epidural hematoma, one in all a number of varieties of mind bleeding, however arguably one of the crucial extreme.

Bleeding contained in the cranium can happen in a number of totally different areas. The mind is roofed by three layers of tissue referred to as the meninges. If bleeding happens between the cranium and the outermost mind tissue layer (the dura), it’s referred to as an epidural hematoma. These often happen from high-pressure bleeding from an artery and might quickly develop, placing strain on the mind tissue and resulting in loss of life inside hours. A majority of these bleeds are nearly at all times handled surgically. Epidural hematomas often outcome from excessive influence mechanisms, and trauma to the perimeters of the top, close to the place the bigger arteries lie.

Bleeding beneath the dural layer of tissue, exterior the mind tissue, is often from a subdural bleed. That is typically a low-pressure bleed from a vein. When discovered, they might be monitored or handled surgically, relying on the dimensions of the bleed in addition to many different components. This kind of bleeding is extra widespread after age 60, because the veins within the mind turn out to be barely extra taut attributable to pure shrinking of the mind tissue. These tight “bridging veins” are extra simply sheared with a reasonably low influence.

Bleeding contained in the mind will be divided into subarachnoid or intraparenchymal, relying on the precise location. These bleeds, when attributable to trauma, are typically handled with out surgical procedure except they’re very giant.

Blood thinners equivalent to Coumadin, Xarelto, Eliquis, Lovenox, and even Plavix put you at larger threat for harmful bleeding after an harm. There are reversal brokers for a few of these medicines, however not all.

One factor to notice is that whereas all of these kind of bleeding will be seen on CT scanning, often very small bleeds will be missed. Moreover, typically bleeding happens a number of hours to days after the preliminary harm (delayed bleeding). Routine admission is just not advisable, but when signs are abruptly worsening after being discharged from a hospital, please return to the emergency division for a repeat analysis.


Many individuals are frightened about concussions, partly as a result of there was a lot press about them in soccer gamers and youngsters. I see many individuals come into the ED, requesting a CT scan to see if they’ve a concussion. Sadly, we are able to’t see a concussion on a CT scan. A concussion is outlined by a constellation of signs, typically: headache, dizziness, nausea, issue focusing, gentle sensitivity, and issues with stability and coordination. Signs often final a number of days, however can typically final weeks and even months. Crucial issue that we all know of proper now to forestall long run issues, is to relaxation your mind after a concussion, to permit it to heal, and to keep away from one other harm on an already bruised mind. It’s okay to sleep, and frequent awakenings are now not routinely advisable.

When you sadly should be seen in an emergency division after an accident, know that we’ve tips (such because the Canadian CT head rule) that assist us decide who wants CT scanning. We issue the dangers of radiation towards the chance of an harm, and so please don’t take personally after we determine that you just do or don’t must have an imaging take a look at.

Please put on a helmet while you’re out on these slopes. Keep protected!

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