Closed head injuries are caused by impact to the head or skull, often from a sudden violent motion or a blow to the head. It is different from an open head injury because the skull and/or brain is not penetrated. Concussion is one of the most common examples of a closed head injury.
Closed head injuries occur on a regular basis in the United States. It is estimated there are approximately 570,000 incidents annually. Approximately 15 percent of these injuries are fatal.
There are two different types of open head injuries. The first is a diffuse injury, which means there is damage to the tissue and cells throughout the brain. The second is a local injury, which means the damage that occurred is restricted to one certain area of the brain. Closed head injuries can range in severity from mild to severe.
Causes of Closed Head Injuries
Closed head injuries are the result of a blow to the head. This can happen under a variety of conditions, but some of the most common instances in which a closed head injury occurs include:
- Falls: head injuries are often the result of falls, including in a bathtub or shower, from a ladder or roof of a building, or falling out of a bed or off of another piece of furniture.
- Vehicle crashes: vehicle crashes frequently result in impact to the head and are one of the most common causes for head injuries
- Sports injuries: sports injuries continue to receive attention for the head injury-related risks they pose. Though athletes of any sport are at risk, those participating in contact sports face the highest risk for concussions and other closed head injuries.
- Violence: violence accounts for about 20 percent of all traumatic brain injuries. Closed head injuries are often the result of spousal abuse or shaken baby syndrome.
Different circumstances create different injuries, all of which are included under the umbrella of closed head injuries. For instance:
- Severe jolts or blows can cause damage in various points of the brain because there is often both forward and backward motions upon impact.
- Rotational or spinning jolts can create tears in the cellular structure of the brain.
- Acute blunt force trauma that is often related to violence can damage brain cells within a localized area in the brain that comes into contact with the skull.
- An explosion blast can create widespread damage in the brain.
- Injuries that lead to bleeding and/or clotting disrupt the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, which over time, can result in extensive damage.
Symptoms of a Closed Head Injury
When no other injuries are present, it can be difficult to recognize the presence and/or severity of a closed head injury. There is rarely bleeding and bruising is often covered by the hair on a person’s head.
The most noticeable symptoms of severe closed head injuries include loss of consciousness, dizziness, and headache. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the injury. Other symptoms of both mild and severe closed head injuries include:
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Dilated pupils
- Difficulty breathing or other respiratory issues
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Blurred or blackened vision
- Lapses in memory
Any type of head injury can produce serious symptoms. Regardless of the symptoms you experience immediately following a head injury, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Mild incidents can cause delayed onset symptoms that can eventually be just as serious as those experienced after severe injuries.
Recovery following a closed head injury can be lengthy, especially if the injuries were severe. Recovery time is also affected by the length of time a patient loses consciousness, if that occurs. Receiving immediate treatment for a head injury can shorten the recovery time, but unfortunately, some head injuries result in life-long damage.
There are many instances in which a closed head injury is caused by an incident that is due to another person’s negligence. If you or a loved one is injured because of someone else’s careless or negligent behavior, you have a right to take legal action. Compensation might be available to help with the cost of medical bills, as well as lost wages, and pain and suffering. It’s common for a person who suffers a head injury to require life-long medical attention. Our goal is to help victims understand the seriousness of their injuries and to assist them with the decisions they face concerning legal action.