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Head Injuries

The brain is, without a doubt, the most important organ in the body. As a control center for the entire body, the brain is responsible for controlling breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, sleep patterns, and everything else that keeps you alive and healthy. Because of its importance, the brain is highly protected by the skull and the fluid that surrounds it to help absorb any potentially dangerous impact. But an injury to the brain can be extremely damaging, whether from a fall, a car accident, or another traumatic event. Concussions are the most common form of brain injury, and they can range from mild to severe. No matter how small or minor it seems, a concussion or injury to the brain should never be taken lightly. Damage from a concussion can lead to cognitive, physical, or even emotional and behavioral changes that affect how we live our lives. If you experience a concussion or head trauma of any kind, seek treatment from a qualified neurologist at AICA Orthopedics for evaluation and proper care. Even if you don’t think you have a concussion, but you’re experiencing head pain of any kind, such as frequent or severe headache pain, get in touch with us and set up a consultation with our neurology team. We can get to the root of the problem and help you find relief and a solution to your head discomfort.

Symptoms of a Head Injury

If you suspect a concussion, it is important to be on the lookout for certain signs and symptoms. If you notice symptoms of a concussion or head trauma, seek help immediately as only a neurologist can determine the extent of your head injury. If you have been in an accident, suffered a sports injury, fallen and hit your head, or have experienced head trauma of any kind, it is imperative that you follow concussion protocol and monitor your symptoms for 24 hours. Symptoms of a concussion can include a headache, neck pain, pressure in the head, light sensitivity, balance problems, blurred vision, nausea, drowsiness, confusion, light or noise sensitivity, among other symptoms. Severe concussion may cause a loss of consciousness for a period of time. Proper imaging and getting medical care at the first sign of a problem can help you get the best treatment needed for an easy recovery and proper healing.

Consult with a Specialist

Chiropractors are a great resource for headache pain. Upon initial consultation, chiropractors at AICA will perform an assessment. If any vertebrae are out of alignment, it could be the source of head and neck pain. Gentle adjustments from an AICA chiropractor can put twisted, turned, or out of place vertebrae back in proper alignment so you can experience relief. Spinal misalignments can cause tension in the neck and head, leading to chronic headaches.

Migraines can be the most debilitating type of headache. Migraine symptoms include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and intense head pain. Migraine sufferers may experience migraines from just a few times a year to more frequently such as several times a month. These debilitating headaches can affect daily life. Until symptoms subside, migraine sufferers are often unable to work, care for families, or simply function.

If you experience migraines, tension headaches, or any other type of headache pain, a chiropractor at AICA can help. But if your head injury is severe, it may lead to a consultation with a neurologist. The highly educated and knowledgeable neurologists at AICA have experience providing treatment and care for others just like you who have suffered a brain injury or are dealing with some form of head pain or discomfort. Our team of specialists at AICA, including highly qualified neurologists, stay up to date with the latest in advances on concussion diagnosis and treatments. A neurologist will first perform an assessment to diagnose your injury. They will ask specifics about the injury as well as check your balance, strength, reflexes, sensation, and memory to determine the extent of your brain injury. It is important that a neurologist receives as accurate of information as possible to correctly assess and diagnose head trauma. Some concussions may first present as migraine symptoms, so it is important to receive an accurate diagnosis and get the treatment you need to fully heal. A CAT scan, MRI, or EEG (brain wave study) can provide more information about your injury and related pain. After a diagnosis, your neurologist will come up with the best plan of action to treat your injury. Observation during this time is crucial. Rest, rest, and more rest is the best prescription for a brain injury.

Our bodies are amazing at healing themselves, but it does take time. The more you rest, the more you allow your body to go through the healing process. This may require that you take time off of work or school, skip sports practices, and avoid physical activity for a while. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months for the brain to fully heal from an injury. Be sure to get the all clear from a doctor before you return to sports practices or normal activities. Even if you don’t suspect a brain injury but have some other form of head pain, a visit with a neurologist is likely to bring about more effective treatment and better long-term pain relief.

For the best results, turn to the experienced and highly qualified specialists at AICA for diagnosis and treatment of head pain, specifically a traumatic brain injury.

Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The most common scenario that causes a traumatic brain injury is a simple blow to the head. This can be the head hitting against a surface which could happen with car accident injuries, falls, or a contact sports injury. It may also be a result of an object hitting the head, like debris or even a gunshot wound.

Penetrating wounds are rarer, but can also occur and result in a traumatic brain ianjury.

These conditions can also occur without direct contact with the head. If the body is jolted, like during the impact of a vehicular collision, the brain can move forcefully enough to hit the skull despite the fluid surrounding it. This can cause the same problems as an external blow to the head might.

Young children, athletes, and adults over the age of 60 are all particularly vulnerable to traumatic brain injuries.

Common Traumatic Brain Injuries

The most commonly sustained head injury is a concussion, which is generally considered a mild traumatic brain injury. The term concussion refers to any injury severe enough to cause a disturbance to the brain. It is typically accompanied by headaches, temporary cognitive issues, or migraine-like symptoms. Most concussions heal well with little intervention, though they can be more serious. Repeated concussions over a period of time can also cause permanent damage. Outside of concussions, there are a number of other common traumatic brain injuries.

One category of these injuries has to do with blood in the brain. A hematoma is a collection, or a clotting, of blood outside of the blood vessels. These can occur anywhere in the body, but a hematoma in the brain is especially serious as it can lead to pressure accumulating inside the skull. This pressure may lead to a loss of consciousness or even permanent brain damage. The brain can also hemorrhage, in which uncontrolled bleeding occurs. This can be in the space around your brain (a subarachnoid hemorrhage), which leads to nausea and vomiting, or within the brain tissue (intracerebral hemorrhage). An intracerebral hemorrhage can lead to pressure build-up as the blood accumulates over time.

Any brain injury can cause swelling, also known as edema. This is more common in the tissues surrounding your brain, but in severe cases, the brain itself can swell. The skull cannot stretch to accommodate this swelling, which leads to pressure in the brain. The brain then begins to push against the skull, which can cause further issues. One of the reasons this is common is the skull does not contain bone marrow like most other bones, meaning it is extremely strong and difficult to break. In cases where the skull fractures, it can no longer absorb impact, leaving your brain vulnerable to further injury.

Diffuse axonal injury, also known as sheer injury, is any injury to the brain that doesn’t cause bleeding but does cause damage to the brain cells, resulting in the brain cells losing proper function. This may also lead to swelling and further damage. This form of traumatic brain injury isn’t outwardly visible, but is one of the most dangerous head injuries possible, often leading to permanent brain damage or even death.

Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain injuries should always be treated as quickly as possible, so it is important to identify any signs or symptoms. However, it can also be difficult as you may not always notice some of the common signs in yourself. Symptoms may also not appear for hours or days after the original impact has occurred. Monitoring yourself and having outside observation are both important when there is potential for a head injury.

Common symptoms of a minor head injury can include:

  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness or a spinning sensation
  • Mild, temporary confusion
  • Nausea
  • Temporary ringing in the ears

In more severe head injuries, symptoms can include the above, as well as the following:

  • A loss of consciousness, no matter how short
  • Memory loss
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Severe disorientation
  • Trouble with balance and coordination
  • Visual disturbances, like an inability to focus the eyes or abnormal eye movements and dilation
  • A loss of muscle control
  • Mood changes
  • Clear fluid leaking from the eyes or nose

Any sign of a head injury should be treated promptly, but if these more serious symptoms occur, emergency care is crucial.

Treating a Traumatic Brain Injury

When you visit a doctor to assess a potential head injury, they will first focus on determining the type and severity of the issue. They will look to rule out any serious issues that require emergency treatment and make a determination from there. A common tool is the Glasgow Coma Scale, a test that assesses your mental status and abilities. Along with this, they will ask about the circumstances of your injury; if you have trouble recalling the event, bringing a witness can be helpful. There will also be a physical exam, looking for things like bruising, and tests of your reflexes, balance, and nerve function. Diagnostic imaging tests like MRIs or CT scans may also be used for more detailed information.

The way a head injury is treated depends on the type and severity of the injury.

Minor injuries like concussions are often treated with rest, avoidance of physical activity and mental strain, and careful monitoring. Any new or worsening symptoms are important to report to your doctor.

Serious head injuries may require medication, such as anti-seizure medication or diuretics, to help relieve pressure in your brain. You may need to be hospitalized with certain types of injuries. Surgery can be necessary to remove a hematoma, repair a broken skull, or release pressure in the head in some emergency situations.

When you suspect a brain injury, the doctors at AICA College Park will be able to assess your situation and provide an accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan. With access to a range of specialists, you will be able to benefit from a holistic approach that focuses on your recovery. At the first sign of a potential brain injury or head pain, contact AICA College Park to schedule your first appointment today.