Recognizing the signs and symptoms of closed head injuries as soon as possible gives victims the best chance to get the proper medical treatment and to recover from whatever type of closed head injury they have suffered.
Signs and Symptoms of Closed Head Injuries
The National Institutes for Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have compiled the following list of closed head injury signs and symptoms that victims and their families should be on the lookout for:
- Loss of consciousness
- Altered level of consciousness (drowsy, difficult to arouse)
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Difficulty making decisions and solving problems
- Difficulty concentrating and paying attention
- Difficulty remembering new information and memory loss
- Slurred speech
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to noise and light
- Ringing in ears
- Loss of sense of taste and/or smell
- Change in mood
- Decrease in energy levels
- Change in sex drive
- Change in sleep patterns
Types of Closed Head Injuries
A concussion is a common closed head injury yet is far too often undiagnosed as both victims as well as medical professionals may fail to recognize the signs and symptoms. It can be fatal or result in lifelong disabilities if left untreated.
There are many signs and symptoms to alert the injured person and/or his or her family that this injury may have occurred. Headaches, confusion, slurred speech and loss of energy are all tell-tale signs.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
This type of closed head injury can be difficult to diagnose because survivors can appear “normal” and TBIs don’t appear on MRIs and CT-scans.
Additionally, these injuries can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are either delayed or they are attributed to a victims’ other injuries. When this happens, the traumatic brain injury is said to have been “masked” by the other injury. This is why a TBI is described as the “invisible” injury.
Headaches from a closed head injury are generally called “post-traumatic headaches” because they are caused by the trauma to the head or neck. This can be a direct blow to the head, or it can be caused by a violent jolt to or shaking of their head from the incident that led to the injury itself.
Very painful and debilitating, victims may begin suffering from them immediately, but it is also common for them to begin hours or even days after the injury.
Symptoms of Closed Head Injuries May Not Appear Immediately
It is very important that you watch closely for the subsequent physical, mental and emotional changes noted above that may present themselves over time after a closed head injury. It is important to remember that the signs or symptoms of a closed head injury may not appear immediately. It could be hours, days or even months before the effects become fully apparent. In addition, tell a family member or a close friend if you’ve experienced any type of head trauma, as it can often result in memory loss.
Talk and Die: The Delayed Effect of a Closed Head Injury
The serious and potentially fatal effects of a closed head injury are not always immediately obvious to victims and their loved ones. This is exemplified by the “talk and die syndrome.”
This syndrome refers to the phenomenon where a closed head injury sufferer is able to walk, talk and behave “normally” immediately after the incident, but later succumbs to the fatal effects of his or her closed head injury.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirm the threat posed by the “talk and die syndrome.” According to the NIH, the signs and symptoms of a closed head injury can occur immediately or develop slowly over several hours or days. And the CDC has said closed head injury symptoms may not show up for months after the injury, or until the person starts resuming their everyday life and more demands are placed upon them.
The lesson is to stay vigilant and promptly seek medical attention if and when closed head injury symptoms appear. Just because a victim seems fine and “normal” immediately after the accident, does not mean they have been lucky enough to avoid a closed head injury.
A closed head injury can be life-threatening. Emergency medical treatment is often necessary. Please seek immediate medical attention after any significant blow to the head.