Types Of Head Injuries

Written by Shirley Parker
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We've all hit our heads at one time or another and experienced that awful, sinking feeling that this time we've really done it. And we've probably had our restless child fall off a church pew, while trying to see what's going on up front. Falling against a cast iron drainage pipe, slamming into an elm tree, or raising up too soon underneath a desk or shelving produces a sickening thud that also takes our breath away.

How do we know what's serious and what isn't? Babies and toddlers, for instance, fall a lot and get "goose eggs" that are frightening to see. But goose eggs indicate the injury is to the scalp tissue, not to the brain. The scalp tissue swells outward because it's the only direction it can go. An ice pack will help, although the child (or adult) may resist the cold.

With any age group, symptoms of more serious injury are much the same. Loss of consciousness, irritability, dizziness, confusion, serious bruises, bleeding, repeated vomiting, or fluid draining from the nose and ears indicate the need for immediate medical attention. A seizure, difficulty breathing, or groaning or screaming are signs of serious trauma. No one should hesitate to call 911 if those symptoms are present.

Types of Head Injuries

Concussions are more frequent than we might imagine, and a person who has been struck in the head may be suffering from one, even though she didn't pass out. Concussions can be serious, so all require medical attention.

A head injury may result in bruising of the brain, called contusion. The brain is bleeding and swelling, so it's more serious than most concussions. A hematoma is the result of bleeding in the brain where the blood has collected and clotted. However, this may take several days or even weeks to develop. Skull fractures are capable of causing extremely serious injury at times, but every trauma case is different, so a generalization can't be made.

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