For many of us, slip and fall injuries are nothing more than a simple embarrassment. We dust ourselves off, look sheepish, and walk away. For some of us, though, a simple slip and fall could lead to a serous brain injury. The greatest risk of falling, in fact, is that you will hit your had on the way down.
The tricky thing about brain injuries is that they range widely. Some people who sustain a brain injury get a mild concussion that can be managed with medical supervision. Others sustain a more serious injury that results in a large hemorrhage and a fatality. Researchers have now found that head injuries are a main cause of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, so we might not even see the effects of a brain injury for many years to come.
Force obviously affects how serious your brain injury is. If you fall very suddenly and do not break your fall, your head may hit the ground with greater force and you may sustain a more dangerous brain injury. If you fall from a greater height – from a roof or ladder, for example – your fall will reach a greater velocity and you will hit the ground with more force, causing a worse injury, potentially. Where you fall will also make a big impact. Falling so that your head hits the pavement or a rock will generally mean a more severe brain injury than falling on grass.
In addition to force, where you hit your head can affect the severity of a brain injury. If you fall on the back of your head, you are less likely to sustain a traumatic brain injury because your neck protects your head from stretching or moving about too much. If you hit your head face-first, your brain will move in a back-and-forth motion in your head. It can crash up against your skull and get damaged, but generally a more serious head injury involves being hit on the side of the head. When this happens, your brain moves side to side or even twists slightly in the skull, and this can cause deep tears in the brain. As well, when you hit your head straight on, your brow bone, forehead, and nose absorb some of the impact. This is not the case when you sustain an impact on the side of the head.
No matter where you have been injured, if you have hit your head hard, you should seek medical help. If you have lost consciousness, have blurry vision, are having trouble staying awake, have a severe headache, are having balance problems or have any other serious symptoms, get emergency help. Otherwise, visit your doctor for a check up as soon as you can. Even if you have no symptoms, you may have a mild concussion that needs supervision.
If you are experiencing many falls, you are at an increased risk of brain injury. Don’t wait until you experience a severe concussion – or worse. Visit your doctor to find out what the problem is. You may have a condition that can easily be treated or you may be taking medication that makes you unsteady on your feet. Either way, your doctor can help you stay safer by offering you options.