The brain, the seat of all bodily functions, is greatly protected by membranes, fluid that absorbs shock and a hard bony skull surrounding it. Despite this, high-intensity trauma such as motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, falls or assaults can cause trauma to the head, injuring the scalp, skull or brain. Head trauma can be of various types:
The common symptoms of minor head trauma include pain, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, loss of recent memory and an altered mental state. With severe head trauma, symptoms are more intense and may begin with loss of consciousness, which can sometimes last for days. Other symptoms may include blood or fluid leakage through the nose or ears and seizures. Depending on the part of the brain damaged, there may be problems with balance, movement, speech, sight, hearing, thought, memory and emotions.
When you present to the clinic, your doctor will review your symptoms, and medical history and perform a thorough physical examination to determine vital signs, your orientation, ability to respond, basic brain function and the severity of your head injury. If brain injury is suspected, imaging studies such as a CT or MRI are ordered for confirmation.
In cases of minor head trauma, medication is prescribed to control pain. Wounds are closed with sutures if necessary and dressings are placed. You may need to be examined periodically for some time to ensure you have no signs of brain damage. In case of severe head trauma, you are managed intensively by monitoring your blood pressure, oxygen levels, and pressure inside the skull. Your neck is stabilized as there may be an associated spine injury. Seizures and clotting are prevented with medication. You may need surgery to manage bleeding or swelling of the brain.