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Head Trauma (Traumatic Brain Injury)
|After treatment for head trauma, know which symptoms to watch for. Then call for medical help.
Head trauma can be fatal. The effects from some types of head trauma may not appear right away. So it’s important to get immediate medical attention for any head injury.
Don't move a person with a head injury unless it is necessary to save his or her life. Call 911 and wait for help. Head trauma often comes with severe neck injury. Sudden movements can result in paralysis.
Call 911 immediately after a head blow that results in:
Prolonged loss of consciousness (more than a few seconds) or prolonged drowsiness
Memory problems or confusion
Nausea or vomiting
Pupils dilated or different sizes
Blood or watery fluid leaking from nose or ears
Broken skull or a soft spot on skull
Loss of balance
Weakness of or trouble using an arm or leg
What to expect in the ER
Here is what will happen:
A neurological exam is done. This is a series of simple questions and tests that evaluate the nervous system. Reflexes, movement, response to commands, response to pain, and mental state are assessed.
The healthcare provider shines a bright light into the eyes to check how the pupils respond. This can reveal more about any head injuries.
A CT scan may be done. This test combines X-rays and computer scans to create detailed images of the brain to detect bleeding, swelling, brain injury, and skull fractures
An MRI scan may be done. This test detects minute bleeding (microhemorrhage), bruising, and scarring which may not be visible on CT scanning.
Treatment for head trauma
Here is what is generally done:
Sometimes, severe head injuries cause bleeding on the brain that needs to be treated right away with surgery. In certain cases, the injured person will be watched closely and taken for surgery only if injuries become worse. After surgery, special care helps prevent further brain damage.
Minor head trauma may need little treatment beyond pain control and observation. The healthcare provider may suggest using cold packs to reduce swelling and pain.
Once you are home
At home, call 911 immediately if the affected person:
Becomes very drowsy or confused
Has a headache or trouble seeing
Has a stiff neck or muscle weakness
Has bruising around the eyes or behind the ears
Has any blood or clear fluid coming out of the ears or nose
Online Medical Reviewer:
Sather, Rita, RN
Online Medical Reviewer:
Shelat, Amit, MD
Date Last Reviewed:
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