A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is any type of trauma put upon the scalp, skull, or brain of an individual. These range from just a small bump on the back of the skull to a debilitating and even life-threatening brain injury.
A TBI is classified into two different categories: a closed head wound and an open or penetrating head wound. An open head injury is defined as a blunt force to the head, where an object was able to penetrate the skull. As the skull is one of the strongest bones in your body, an open head injury is most often the result of an accident that took place at a high speed such as a car crash, motorcycle accident, truck collision, or any other collision involving heavy equipment.
It is important to note that anytime you experience a trauma to the head, it should be examined by a doctor. Even with a closed head wound, there could be damage that can take hours or even days before symptoms present themselves.
With an open head injury, the first symptom that will be noticed of course is the bleeding that occurs from the penetration of the skull. Other symptoms may appear that will range from mild annoyances to potentially life-threatening reactions. If an individual who was struck in the head loses consciousness, even just for a few minutes, this is a clear sign that serious damage has occurred.
Other symptoms to look for are prolonged confusion, episodes of vomiting, and seizures. Pupils that do not react to changes in light or that are blown are also indicative of serious wounds. In some instances, the symptoms may not present themselves immediately, making it important for a person who has received this type of wound to be monitored for some time after the event.
There are two different classifications for open head trauma. The type suffered will make a difference in the treatment that the patient receives. The most common type is a linear skull fracture, where there is a crack in the skull, but the tissue was not penetrated. Emergency room physicians see this often in victims of car accidents.
This type of injury can cause leakages of cerebrospinal fluid, putting the patient at risk for severe brain damage. Swelling can also occur, which will put additional pressure on the skull. Depending on the symptoms and severity of the injury, there is often the need for surgical intervention from this type of injury to relieve the pressure on the brain and avoid the loss of any function.
A depressed skull fracture is when the skull has been penetrated completely, causing an object, such as a bullet, and/or fragments of the broken bone to directly compress the brain tissue. This type of injury will automatically cause damage to the area that has been affected and will need to be treated immediately. Surgery is almost always necessary to control bleeding and prevent damage to surrounding areas of the brain.
In both instances, the patient runs the risk of developing an intracranial hematoma, a serious condition noted by bleeding in the brain.
In order to ascertain the exact extent of damage, a neurologist will perform a series of cognitive tests as well as scans to help detect any other injury or complication that has not yet presented itself. The course of treatment will depend on the results of these tests, but no matter what the initial findings are, extensive observation will be ordered to monitor the condition and ensure that it does not worsen.
Even with successful treatment, serious complications can occur that will also have a lasting effect on the patient's quality of life. The most common complication is the development of an infection at the site of the open wound. If not treated promptly, an infection that penetrates the brain will cause brain damage and even death.
Meningitis is the most common of these types of infections and results from the introduction of viruses or bacterium into the membranes surrounding the brain. Aggressive treatment with antibiotics is necessary in order to prevent the infection from spreading or causing further damage to tissue.
Other complications that can arise from these injuries include seizures, dementia, coma, paralysis and death.
The Need for Legal Assistance
The force needed to penetrate the skull makes the cause of an open head injury usually the result of an accident or violence committed against the patient. In either case, the patient may be able to recover the costs of their extensive treatment by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Speaking with a catastrophic injury attorney in Orange County will help you to better understand your options and make informed decisions.
As the workings of the human brain still remains mostly a mystery, even to the most talented of neurologists, there can never be a definitive answer as to the extent of damage caused by these types of injuries. The need for long term care is always necessary, even if the patient shows no outward signs of disability immediately.