(Traumatic Brain Injury)
A closed head injury is trauma to the head that causes the skull and brain to knock or shake. Internal damage can occur to the:
- Blood vessels
- Layers between the skull and scalp
This damage can cause swelling or pressure on the brain. The injury can be throughout the brain and skull. Or it can be in one region.
Often times, the head injury is minor. But it can serious and life threatening. It requires care from a doctor.
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Closed head injuries are caused by trauma to the head. This is often due to:
- Accidents (eg, automobile, work-related, sports-related)
These factors increase your chance of developing a closed head injury:
- Being of advanced age (due to greater risk of falls)
- Being of relatively young age (higher risk of motor vehicle accidents)
- Playing high-impact sports (especially boxing, basketball, baseball, football)
- Being physically abused (eg, shaken baby syndrome )
- Having a previous head injury or concussion
- Abusing alcohol or drugs
Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.
Symptoms can appear right away or the days and weeks following the injury.
If you have any of these symptoms. do not assume it is due to closed head injury. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
Symptoms of a concussion:
- Confusion, loss of memory about the accident
- Low-grade headache or neck pain
- Having trouble remembering, paying attention, organizing, making decisions
- Slowness in thinking, acting, speaking, or reading
- Feeling fatigued or tired
- Change in sleeping pattern (eg, sleeping longer, having trouble sleeping)
- Loss of balance, feeling light-headed or dizzy
- Increased sensitivity to sounds, light, distractions
- Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
- Loss of sense of taste or smell
- Ringing in the ears
- Feeling sad, anxious, or listless, lacking motivation
- Becoming easily irritated or angry for little or no reason
Symptoms of a
or focal brain injury:
- Leaking cerebrospinal fluid
- Blood in the ears
- Weakness or numbness of the limbs
- Swelling, tenderness at injury site
- Hearing loss
- Progressive worsening of cognition or level of alertness
Be sure you know which symptoms your doctor needs to know about right away. If you have been evaluated for a closed head injury and your symptoms are getting worse, get medical help right away.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. He will also do a physical exam. You may be referred to a neurologist for special testing.
Tests may include:
- CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the head
- MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the head
- Blood tests
- Neurological examination
- Neuropsychological tests
- EEG (electroencephalogram)—a noninvasive test used to evaluate brain function