Head Injury (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
How Is a Head Injury Diagnosed?
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The physical examination and the history of the exact details of the injury are the first steps in caring for a patient with head injury. The patient's past medical history and medication usage will also be important factors in deciding the next steps. Plain skull X-rays are rarely done for the evaluation of head injury. It is more important to assess brain function than to look at the bones that surround the brain. Plain X-ray films may be considered in infants to look for a fracture, depending upon the clinical situation.
Computerized tomography (CT) scan of the head allows the brain to be imaged and examined for bleeding and swelling in the brain. It can also evaluate bony injuries to the skull and look for bleeding in the sinuses of the face associated with basilar skull fractures. CT does not assess brain function, and patients suffering axonal shear injury may be comatose with a normal CT scan of the head.
Numerous guidelines exist to give direction as to when a CT should be completed in patients who present awake after sustaining a minor head injury.
The Ottawa CT head rules apply to patients age 2 to 65.
What Are Home Remedies to Treat a Head Injury?
Many people who hit their heads do not need to seek medical attention. People often hit their heads on a cupboard or trip and fall on a soft surface, get up and dust themselves off and are otherwise well.
Occasionally, a bump can occur underneath the skin of the scalp or forehead. This 'goose egg' is a hematoma on the outside of the skull and is not necessarily related to any potential bleeding that can affect the brain. Treatment is the same as any other bruise or contusion and includes ice, and over-the-counter pain medication.
What Is the Medical Treatment for a Head Injury?
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Treatment for head injury will be individualized for each patient depending upon the underlying injury and the patient's situation.
As with any other injury, the ABCs of resuscitation take priority to restore or support breathing and circulation in the body. Care for the head injury often occurs at the same time other injuries are attended to in the multiply traumatized patient.
How Do I Prevent a Head Injury?
What Is the Prognosis for a Head Injury?
The recovery from head injury depends upon the amount of damage inflicted upon the brain. Not surprisingly, the brain cannot recover from severe injury, but the goal of treatment is to return as much function as possible.
Of note is that concussion, once thought to be relatively minor, may have more long-term effects than initially appreciated and should not be ignored.
Medically reviewed by Joseph Carcione, DO; American board of Psychiatry and Neurology
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/21/2017
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