It’s common to see someone shrug off a minor blow to the head, dismissing it as a mere bump. Athletes in contact sports are often encouraged to play through the pain; people who have fallen are often more concerned about injured wrists or banged up knees than a seemingly inconsequential head injury.
Unfortunately, this approach can ignore significant damage. A head injury that initially appears to be harmless can turn out to be life-altering or even life-threatening.
The problem is that people with serious brain injuries often appear to be just fine. The damage is not readily visible, so people assume that they are not seriously injured. If an injured person’s brain is bleeding, pressure can build, which may eventually lead to the symptoms traditionally associated with a traumatic brain injury. Such injuries are known as epidural hemorrhages.
These types of injuries can develop into complications and problems over time, resulting in years of medical care, treatment and therapy. For example, a study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry reveals that children with even mild head injuries may suffer life-altering conditions including personality changes, emotional and behavioral problems and learning difficulties.
The interaction between brain damage and personality changes is well-documented. In some cases, industrious and hard-working people can become irresponsible and lazy. People who were once kind can become abrasive and difficult to manage. Adults may appear to fully recover physically while demonstrating the maturity of teenagers. Teenagers may develop of disinhibition syndrome, behaving impulsively and inappropriately.
These harms may seem less serious than other harms that can come from brain injuries — but the consequences of a significant personality shift can completely change the course of an injured person’s life.
To minimize the long-term consequences of such an injury, it is important to recognize the early signs of a brain injury. Nausea, persistent headaches, sudden sleepiness and slurred speech are among the initial symptoms. Immediate treatment is essential. Damage caused by the swelling and bleeding is often permanent and irreversible, which means that addressing the problem quickly can help to mitigate the long-term consequences.
Additionally, conscientious follow-up examinations play a key role in identifying potential further complications caused by head injuries. With the progression of medical technologies and advances in MRI and CT imaging scans, the future of diagnosing the extent of non-congenital brain damage and determining the chances for recovery are promising.
Following a head injury, don’t take any chances. Speak to a doctor as soon as possible.