Head Injury

General Illness Information

Common Name:
Head Injury

Medical Term: None Specified

Description: Injury to the head, with or without unconsciousness or other visible signs.  Head wound may be “open” or “closed” depending on the nature of the injury.

Causes: Trauma to the head.

Prevention:

  • Wear protective headgear for contact sports and cycling.
  • Use your auto seat belt always. Place young children in approved safety car seats.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Loss of consciousness either temporarily or for long periods.
  • Drowsiness or confusion.
  • Vomiting and nausea.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Amnesia or memory lapses.
  • Irritability.
  • Headache.
  • Pupils of different sizes.

Risk Factors

  • Excess alcohol consumption.
  • Contact sports, especially football or boxing.
  • Improper protection, e.g. riding a bicycle without a helmet.

Diagnosis & Treatment

  • Hospitalization for observation, if signs and symptoms are severe.
  • Diagnostic tests may include laboratory studies of blood and cerebrospinal fluid, X-rays of the skull and neck and CT scan of the head, and MRI studies. If any correctable lesion is found, surgery is indicated.
  • The extent of injury can be determined only with careful examination and observation. After a doctor’s examination, the injured person may be sent home, but a responsible person must stay with the person and watch for serious symptoms. The first 24 hours after injury are critical, although serious after-effects can appear later.

General Measures:

  • Don’t give any medication including non-prescription acetaminophen or aspirin until the diagnosis is certain
  • For patients who are not hospitalized, a head injury routine may be advised.

Medications:

No medications should be given unless on the direction of a physician.

Activity:

The patient should rest in bed until the danger is over. Normal activity may then be resumed as symptoms improve.

Diet:

The patient should not be given anything by mouth until examinations and appropriate tests are performed, and the physician is satisfied that there is no risk of aspiration.

If the patient is discharged from medical care, physician’s instructions should be followed.

Possible Complications:

  • Bleeding under the skull (subdural hemorrhage and hematoma).
  • Bleeding into the brain.

These are very serious complications, and demand immediate intervention.

Prognosis

Usually curable with early recognition of danger signs and medical treatment.

Complications can be life-threatening or cause permanent disability.