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Why subdural hematomas can be especially deadly

By now, most people are aware of the serious and debilitating side effects that can result from a brain injury. Any injury to the brain is serious and likely to result in an individual suffering some degree of short-term or permanent damage; however, not all brain injuries are readily apparent. This is true of concussions which, until recently, were widely considered to only result in minor and temporary side effects. It’s also true of the type of brain injury that’s known as a subdural hematoma.

According to the National Institutes of Health, a subdural hematoma occurs when there is a “collection of blood between the covering of the brain and the surface of the brain.” This type of brain injury may result from involvement in a car accident and be acute in nature, meaning that pooling blood in the brain and causes brain tissue to rapidly compress. If not treated quickly, acute subdural hematomas often result in permanent brain and spinal injuries and death.

However, not all subdural hematomas are acute in nature and, in older individuals; these types of injuries are often classified as being chronic in nature and may “go unnoticed for many days to weeks.” Symptoms commonly associated with a chronic subdural hematoma include a mild headache, trouble balancing, muscle weakness, nausea, confusion and fatigue.

Often the pool of blood that is the source of these symptoms reabsorbs on its own and an individual isn’t even aware that he or she suffered a brain injury. In other cases, however, the blood continues to pool and causes increasing pressure in the brain which can eventually result in an individual suffering permanent brain damage and even death.

Elderly individuals are most at risk of suffering chronic subdural hematomas and such an injury may result from even seemingly minor bumps to the head. For these reasons, individuals who are age 60 or older who are involved in a car accident or slip-and-fall accident are advised to always seek medical treatment and see their doctor right away if they notice any changes in their physical or cognitive functioning.

Source: NPR.org, “How A Simple Bump Can Cause An Insidious Brain Injury,” Daniel Zwerdling, Jan. 7, 2016

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