Dr. MJ Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Head Injuries

What are the main causes of head injuries?
A serious head injury is most likely to happen to someone who is in a car wreck and isn’t wearing a seat belt. Other major causes of head injuries include bicycle wrecks, falls from windows (especially among children who live in the city) and falls around the house (especially among toddlers and the elderly). Another cause in babies is being shaken by an adult.

Are head injuries serious?
They can be. Bleeding, tearing of tissues and brain swelling can occur when the brain moves inside the skull at the time of an impact. But most people recover from head injuries and have no lasting effects.
How can my doctor tell how bad the damage is?
Your doctor will want to know how the injury occurred, about past medical problems, and about vomiting, seizures (fits) or problems breathing after the injury. The person who has been injured may need to stay in the hospital to be watched. Sometimes, special pictures of the brain may be needed to find out more about the damage.

What to watch for afterward - Get help if you notice:

Will the head injury cause permanent brain damage?
This depends on how bad the injury was and how much damage it did. Most head injuries don’t cause permanent damage.
What happens after the injury?
It’s normal to have a headache, and feel dizzy and nauseous right after a head injury. Other symptoms include ringing in the ears, neck pain, and feeling anxious, upset, irritable, depressed or tired. The person who has had a head injury may also have problems concentrating, remembering things, putting thoughts together or doing more than one thing at a time. These symptoms usually go away in a few weeks, but may go on for over a year if the injury was severe.

Is it true that the person must be kept awake after the injury?
No. If your doctor thinks the person needs to be watched this closely, your
doctor will probably want to keep the person in the hospital. Sometimes, doctors will send someone who has had a head injury home if the person with them is reliable enough to watch the injured person closely. In this case, your doctor may ask you to wake the person frequently and ask questions such as “what’s your name?” and “where are you?” to make sure everything is okay.

Will the injury cause epilepsy?
Sometimes epilepsy can start after a head injury. This is much more common if the injury was from something that went through the skull, such as from a gunshot or knife wound. Your doctor might prescribe medicine to lessen the likelihood of epilepsy if he or she thinks the risk is high.

Will memory be lost?
It’s common for someone who’s had a head injury to forget the events right before, during and right after the accident. Memory of these events may never come back. Following recovery, the ability to learn and remember new things almost always returns.

Types of head injuries

The brain may move inside the skull during impact, causing tissue damage.