Head injury (other names: head trauma, traumatic brain injury) is any trauma to the brain from an external mechanical force. It can lead to either permanent or temporary impairment of cognitive, physical or psychosocial functions of the brain.
What are the examples of head injury, you ask? A blow to the head, face or neck is a head injury. Accidentally bumping your head to a hard surface like wall, mounted TV, or edge of a table is a head injury. In fact, any type of force that hits your head is called head injury.
Some people who had this incident can look perfectly normal like nothing happened. Some can immediately seen unconscious.
If the injured person is unconscious, has lost consciousness or has seizures, call 911 or bring him immediately to the nearest emergency room (ER). If the person is conscious and has no physical wound or any complaint, ER visit is still necessary just so the doctor can do an initial assesssment after the injury.
After having been assessed by the doctor and was told that your condition was not in danger at the moment, well that’s good! But as much as I don’t want to kill your joy with the result, I have to tell you that you still have something to do.
Now, you and your caretaker (or anyone who can watch over you from this point in time) must be informed of the red flags or signs of head injury that needs medical intervention.
Here is the list that you and your caretaker should always remember about warning signs of head injury:
- Severe or worsening headache
- Feeling unusually sleepy
- Collapsing or passing out suddenly
- Any change to your eyesight
- Lack of coordination
- Weakness in one or both of your arms or legs
- New deafness in one or both ears
Severe or Worsening Headache
Mild headache is normal to experience after head injury. However, if you notice that the intensity of your headache is increasing over time, this is a sign that you MUST see the doctor immediately.
Vomiting after head injury means there is a problem happening inside your skull. Do not take any medication to relieve this symptom unless the doctor prescribed it or was ordered on your ER visit.
Feeling as if you are in a fog? You don’t feel like yourself? Feeling something is not quite right? Difficulty in thinking clearly? Go see a doctor immediately.
Feeling unusually sleepy
If the injured person has been sleeping for hours (whether continuous or in intervals) during time of the day that he don’t usually sleep, bring him to the ER as soon as possible.
Collapsing or passing out suddenly
Are you feeling light-headed or feeling of about to faint? Fainting or syncope is a sudden, brief loss of consciousness. The fainted person falls to the ground or slumps in a chair followed by a return of consciousness.
Fainting can be caused by a number of things. A person might have experienced extreme pain causing him to faint. A seizure and cardiac arrest can make a person lose consciousness and just fall to the ground.
The main cause lies in the disturbance in brain function. There could be decrease in blood flow; or the blood flow is fine but there is not enough oxygen within the blood; or the blood flow and oxygen levels are normal, but the glucose or blood sugar is insufficient. The injured patient must be brought to the ER so the doctor can determine the root cause.
Any change to the eyesight
You previously had a 20/20 vision. Now, after the head injury, you vision is somewhat blurred; or you might be experiencing double vision. These are not normal after experiencing head injury so you have to see a doctor.
Feels like you are in a roller coaster? Your surrounding seems to be moving like there’s an ongoing earthquake? You can’t stand up because you feel you’re about to fall? Call 911 or the nearest ER if no one can bring you to the medical facility.
Lack of coordination
Picking up a spoon or any object made you exert tremendous amount of thought or effort? The way you walk isn’t showing a smooth movement as before? Then you are experiencing ataxia and this calls for a medical attention.
Weakness in one or both arms or legs
You can’t lift up your right arm when you needed to reach for something? You barely can get out of your bed? Experiencing these knowing you can do them perfectly before the head injury means there is something wrong.
New deafness in one or both ears
You seem to start twisting your neck to one side when listening to something? The loudness of the sounds around you seem to be lowered down? You now speak louder than before?
To the observer: do you notice that the injured person always asks you to repeat your statement/question when talking to him? Do you notice the injured person do not respond immediately when you call him even though you are not very far apart? These could be signs of hearing impairment that necessitates medical attention.
Does the injured person cannot recall any memory surrounding the incident? Bring the person immediately to the doctor.