What is a closed head injury? — A closed head injury happens when a person hits his or her head on a hard surface or when an object hits and hurts the head, but doesn’t go through the skull. Even though the object doesn’t go through the skull, parts of the head can still get damaged. A closed head injury can cause:
●A broken bone of the skull or face
●Brain injury or swelling
●Bleeding in or around the brain
The most common causes of a closed head injury are falls, sports injuries, and car and bike accidents.
Some closed head injuries are mild. Another word for a mild brain injury is a “concussion.” Closed head injuries can also be severe and life-threatening.
What are the symptoms of a closed head injury? — Symptoms depend on the type of injury a person has and how severe it is. People with a mild closed head injury, such as a bump on the head, might not have any symptoms.
When a closed head injury does cause symptoms, it can cause:
●Nausea or vomiting
●Swelling, bleeding, or bruising on the scalp
●Confusion or memory problems
●Mood or behavior changes
●Trouble walking or talking
●Seizures – Seizures are waves of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. They can make you pass out, or move or behave strangely.
A closed head injury that involves a broken skull or face bone can also cause:
●Bruising around the eyes or behind the ear
●Blood or clear fluid draining from the nose or ear
Symptoms can start right after a closed head injury, or a few hours or days later. Some people have symptoms that last a short time only. Other people have symptoms that cause long-lasting problems.
Will I need tests? — It depends on your injury and symptoms. Your doctor or nurse will ask about your symptoms and do an exam. He or she will also ask questions to check your thinking.
If your doctor or nurse thinks you might have a serious injury, he or she might order an imaging test of your brain, such as a CT or MRI scan. These tests create pictures of your skull and brain.
How is a closed head injury treated? — Treatment depends on your injury and how serious it is.
Usually, mild closed head injuries do not need treatment. But your doctor might recommend that someone watch you for 24 hours after your injury. This person should watch for new symptoms or the symptoms listed above. If you fall asleep, he or she should wake you up every few hours to make sure that you can be woken up.
Severe closed head injuries need to be treated in the hospital. Treatment can include:
●Medicines – Some medicines help prevent brain swelling. Others help prevent seizures.
●Surgery – If you have bleeding in or around your brain, or if your brain swells, you might need surgery.
When should I call the doctor or nurse? — After your closed head injury, call your doctor or nurse if:
●Your headache gets worse.
●Your thinking or behavior changes.
●You can’t walk normally.
●You have a seizure.
Plus, the person watching you should call the doctor or nurse if he or she can’t wake you up.
When can I play sports or do my usual activities again? — Ask your doctor when you can play sports or do your usual activities again. It will depend on your injury and symptoms.
How can I prevent another closed head injury? — To help prevent another closed head injury, you should wear a helmet when you ride a bike or motorcycle, or play sports where you could get hurt. You should also wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a car.