Head injuries, perhaps more than any other type of injury, affect every aspect of a person’s life. One of the most common types of head injuries is a closed head injury, in which the head sustains impact that jostles the brain, but the skull is not fractured or penetrated. It might seem as though a closed head injury would not be as serious as an open one, but this is not always the case. Traumatic closed head injuries can change a person’s life forever.
About 75 percent of all brain injuries that occur in the United States are closed head injuries. It’s the leading cause of death for children and adults under the age of 45, and approximately 15 percent of closed injuries in any given year are fatal. It’s also quite common for closed head injuries to cause permanent damage and affect a person’s physical and cognitive functioning.
The majority of closed head injuries are caused by traffic accidents, but a number of cases are related to sports injuries.
Side Effects of Traumatic Closed Head Injuries
The effects of traumatic closed head injuries depend on the severity of the event that caused it. Even a mild impact to the head can cause serious, long-term damage. The location of the injury is also an important factor, as different parts of the brain are responsible for controlling different functions. Brain injuries can result in a combination of physical, cognitive, and emotional issues.
Physical impairments can pass with time. The first and most noticeable physical impairment associated with a head injury is unconsciousness. A person with a head injury might also experience dizziness, nausea and vomiting, loss of balance, weakness, and seizures. It’s important to speak to a doctor about your symptoms following a head injury, no matter how mild they might seem.
Cognitive impairments tend to be a sign of a more serious head injury. They can last for a short period of time, such as loss of memory immediately following a head injury, or they can be long-term or permanent. Cognitive impairments affect a person’s ability to reason, learn new things, pay attention, relate to one’s surroundings, and communicate effectively. It might be necessary for someone who has experienced a head injury to participate in therapy to relearn cognitive skills that were present prior to the injury.
Emotional and behavioral changes following a head injury are common, especially after a severe event. Emotional challenges can be a direct result of the injury, or they can be secondary and arise because a person is frustrated or angry over cognitive or physical changes caused by the injury. Depending on the part of the brain that was injured, things like impulse control, mood, and relational abilities can be altered.
Treating Traumatic Closed Head Injuries
Treatment for closed head injuries is both immediate and long-term. A professional medical evaluation is always recommended following a head injury, even if symptoms do not seem severe. In some cases, the effects of a head injury are not noticed or do not arise for some time, so it’s important for a doctor to assess the injury and begin a “paper trail” associated with the injury.
When an injury is serious, immediate medical attention is critical. Doctors must stabilize pressure and control swelling in the brain in order to prevent further injury. In most cases, multiple doctors will assess a patient with a head injury, and together determine the appropriate course of treatment.
Recovery from a closed head injury is possible, but it can take time and require a great deal of effort on the part of the injured individual. Therapy is an important part of the recovery plan and certain types of therapy might be needed on a daily basis. The goal of all treatment for closed head injuries is to regain as many life skills as possible and hopefully, be capable of living independently.
Depending on the extent of injuries, therapy will be a combination of helping a person with a head injury relearn skills previously known, or find ways to compensate for skills that are no longer possible. Long-term treatment is common for people with injuries, and might include a combination of physical, cognitive, and behavioral therapy, as well as emotional support to help a person adjust to his or her new life.
If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic closed head injury as the result of someone else’s negligence or violent act, you could be entitled to compensation.