Sometimes it takes a serious injury or fatality to a well known person to remind us that no matter who we are or what we do, we’re all vulnerable to head injuries.  What’s equally important to keep in mind, is that even a seemingly minor head injury can cause very serious problems.  That’s why Riverside provides a full scope of diagnostic and treatment capabilities for children and adults who experience an injury to the head, ranging from exceptional emergency care to specialized rehabilitation for traumatic brain injury. In all cases, it’s essential to act quickly when a blow to the head occurs.

Trauma and Emergency Care
Emergency treatment for head injuries at Riverside Regional Medical Center includes the Peninsula’s only Level II Trauma Center delivering life-saving care to the region’s most seriously injured.  The Trauma Center, located within the Emergency Department, is staffed with trauma specialists 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Services also include the LifeEvac III air ambulance helicopter for traumatic response situations.

Along with a highly trained and experienced medical and nursing staff, the Trauma Center and Emergency department have access to some the most advanced diagnostic tools available including a state-of-the-art 128 slice CT scanner.  This new technology offers exceptionally fast and highly precise images of the brain that can provide a more accurate diagnosis and more effective treatment.

Advanced Neurosciences Capabilities
The neurosurgeons and neurologists of the Riverside Center for Neurosciences are an important part of the multidisciplinary medical team that provides emergency services for head injury patients.  They offer the expertise to initially evaluate and determine the severity of a head injury, monitor the patient and carry out needed surgical and medical treatment at the critical care and acute care stage of the injury as well as any required follow-up care.

How to Recognize a Potentially Serious Head Injury
The symptoms of a head injury can occur immediately or develop slowly over several hours or days. The following symptoms are generally related to a more serious head injury and require immediate medical treatment:

  • Changes in, or unequal size of pupils
  • Convulsions
  • Distorted features of the face
  • Fluid draining from nose, mouth, or ears (may be clear or bloody)
  • Impaired hearing, smell, taste, or vision
  • Inability to move one or more limbs
  • Irritability, personality changes or unusual behavior
  • Loss of consciousness, confusion, or drowsiness
  • Low breathing rate or drop in blood pressure
  • Restlessness, clumsiness, or lack of coordination
  • Severe headache
  • Slurred speech or blurred vision
  • Stiff neck or vomiting
  • Symptoms that improve, and then suddenly get worse 

Keep in mind that younger children may not be able to tell you about problems they are having like headaches or confusion and instead you should watch for signs including irritability, distraction and changes in eating habits – as well as the other symptoms shown above.

And remember, with adults or children, even seemingly minor injuries may involve a situation where the brain can bang against the inside of the skull and be bruised. The head may look fine, the person may not look different and not have any immediate problems, but complications could result from bleeding or swelling inside the skull.

That’s why it’s important to get medical help quickly. For questions about some of the more subtle signs and symptoms of head injuries that could lead to serious problems, call Riverside Nurse at (757) 595-6363.

The Best Way to Deal with Head Injuries?  Prevent Them.
It would be wonderful if all head injuries could be avoided simply by paying more attention.  But in a world where accidents happen and complete protection at all times simply isn’t possible, we have to do the best we can. And the best we can do begins with wearing a seat belt whenever you’re in a moving vehicle. The next step is wearing protective head gear in appropriate workplaces and for sports and recreation activities where head injuries are more likely to occur.

A significant amount of research over the years shows positively that a properly fitted helmet can greatly reduce the degree of disability and death associated with head injuries. Depending on the activity, helmets come in a lot of shapes and designs to meet a wide range of application.  But they all share one thing in common.  They only provide protection when they’re on your head.

If you have children don’t just encourage them to wear a helmet for a growing range of activities. Insist on it. And if you’re taking part in the same activities, it’s equally important for you to wear a helmet.  Not only because it protects your head … but also because it sends the right safety message to your kids or grandkids.