Brain injuries can result from simple summer sports, from car accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and even simple slip and fall accidents. In many cases, a bump on the head results in no serious injury, but in some cases, a bump on the head causes the brain to crash against the inside of the skull. In some cases, this can lead to internal bleeding, concussions, and brain damage.
The case of actress Natasha Richardson earlier this year proved that diagnosing a brain injury can be difficult. Richardson fell at the bottom of a beginner’s slope while skiing. Initially, she seemed fine, speaking and laughing. After refusing medical attention, she walked to her hotel room. Within hours, her condition became serious. Tragically, she eventually died as a result of the brain injury she suffered on the slope.
Experts and neurologists note that when helping someone who may have suffered a brain injury, it is important to:
1) Test for altered consciousness. Experts suggest asking a patient a series of simple math and information questions. Asking the patient to follow your finger with his or her eyes is also a good way to note whether a patient is fully alert or not. If someone has hit his or her head and is conscious but has trouble answering questions or following your finger, that person needs immediate medical help.
2) Check for vision problems. If the patient’s eyes seem to have trouble focusing or if the patient seems to have a “glazed” look, he or she may be experiencing vision problems. Blurry vision or problems seeing can be a sign of brain injury. Get the patient to a physician at once for a full assessment.
3) Check for sleepiness or confusion. Most patients will complain of a headache after being hit in the head. However, if a patient feels tired and wants to sleep, it is important to keep the person awake and rush them to a doctor. Sleepiness, drowsiness and confusion – being “in a fog” – can indicate that an injury has taken place and the brain in not functioning normally.
4) Look out for nausea and dizziness. These can be symptoms of a head injury or even an internal injury to one of the organs. In some cases, these can indicate shock, but it is better to err on the side of caution and have the patient examined for brain injury and other serious injuries.
5) Take the “better safe than sorry” attitude. If someone has hit their head and experiences any symptoms, take the person to an emergency room. While it can be frustrating to spend hours in an emergency room, if a brain injury has taken place, timely help is a must. Many brain injury patients can be helped within the first hour after an accident, but the more time that passes the more difficult a positive prognosis can be. Prompt treatment can help save a person’s life.