Closed Head Injuries
A closed head injury can be defined as an acute trauma that occurs when the brain is injured as a direct result of either, a sudden violent motion that causes the brain to crash into the walls of the skull or by a violent blow to the head. A closed head injured is distinctly different from an open head injury in which the skull and brain are penetrated. An example of an open head injury would be a gunshot wound to the head. An example of a closed head injury would be a concussion.
There are two primary types of closed head injuries. A closed head injury can be classified as diffuse, which means that the damage affects tissue and cells throughout the brain. The second type of closed head injury in a local injury, meaning that the damage by the trauma is restricted to one particular area. The extent of the damage caused by a closed head injury can range from mild to severe.
Closed Head Injury Causation
As mentioned earlier, the primary causation of a closed brain injury is a blow to the head, which can be caused by some things, including automobile accidents, work-related accidents, falls, sports-related injuries or even personal assault.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the damage from these type of injuries can vary in degree based on some different factors, including the force of the impact and the nature of the event.
Types of common causes for closed head injuries:
- Falls — such as falling out of bed, slipping in the bathtub or shower, falling from ladders and other high places can all result in closed head injury
- Sports injuries — can be a common cause of closed head injury. There are some contact sports that are discovering that closed head injuries, such as concussions, are more common than initially estimated.
- Violence — accounts for 20 percent of traumatic brain injuries, especially domestic violence occurrences such as spousal abuse or shaken baby syndrome.
Some of the factors that can impact the severity and complications associated with the injury are:
- A severe jolt of the blow can cause multiple points of damage because the back and forth movement of the brain inside of the skull.
- A rotational or spinning jolt that is severe can cause tears within the cellular structure of the brain
- Acute blunt force trauma may create a situation in which the damage to the brain cells may be limited to a localized area at the point in which the blow made contact with the skull.
- A blast from an explosive device can cause widespread damage
- Injuries that cause bleeding and blood clots can disrupt the flow of oxygen to the brain resulting in extensive damage.
Symptoms Associated with Closed Head Injury
Symptoms associated with severe closed head injuries will generally present themselves immediately following the trauma, while milder cases may produce a delayed onset of symptoms. It is important to recognize these symptoms as soon as possible to seek medical attention.
Some of the symptoms of closed head injury are:
- Changes in emotional disposition and behavior
- Loss of consciousness
- Dilated pupils
- Difficulty breathing and other respiratory issues
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blurred or blacked out vision
- Slurred speech
- Lapses in memory
Getting a Handle on the Prognosis
The overall prognosis, as well as the degree and rate of the recovering, will depend on the severity of the injury, how soon the patient received treatment. The amount of time that a closed head injury patient spent out of consciousness can impact the degree of recovery as well.