March 19th, 2009
05:39 PM ET
Head trauma is nothing to be taken lightly
By Val Willingham
The death of actress Natasha Richardson is tragic. A beautiful, vital 45-year-old goes for a ski lesson and falls. She gets up, declines medical care and goes back to her hotel. From there, the story takes a terrible turn. She becomes ill, and is transported to one hospital, then another and then finally to a third hospital near her home, where she dies two days later from brain injuries caused by an epidural hematoma. Her family, friends and fans are shocked. How can something as innocent as a ski fall kill you? Because, neurologists say, the brain, although complex, is a delicate organ. It's very vulnerable and it needs to be taken seriously. And even a bump on the head can take its toll. Unfortunately, I know this all too well.
Thirteen years ago, my husband, daughter and I were in a terrible car accident on the Florida Turnpike. On our way to Orlando, our vehicle was hit by a driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel. Although we all had our seat belts on, our car swerved and hit a bridge embankment. My husband's head went out the side window, hitting the windshield and the concrete. When EMS workers got to us, it looked as if a battle had taken place: burning cars, debris. And because my husband had a major slice to his head, blood was everywhere. I was not hurt, and my daughter had a minor cut from flying glass. They loaded us into ambulances and took us to two different hospitals, my husband headed for the local trauma unit. He stayed two days in the hospital. They stitched up his forehead and sent him home, mentioning that he may want to see his doctor once he got back to Washington, D.C. And although the whole thing was terribly traumatic, we left Florida three days later, with my husband behind the wheel of a rental car.
Because he felt fine and there seemed to be no urgency to his injuries, my husband went back to work and made an appointment with his doctor to have a CT scan two months later. When he got off the table, the radiologist asked him to sit down and immediately called a neurologist. As the doctor viewed the images, his face turned pale and he asked my husband how long had it been since he was in the accident. My hubby shrugged and said, "A couple of months." The physician then told him not to move - he was going to schedule surgery immediately. It seemed my husband had developed a subdural hematoma that covered his entire brain. According to MayoClinic.com it's usually formed from head trauma that causes the brain to be shaken severely. Many children who suffer from shaken baby syndrome have these type of injuries. And unlike epidural hematomas, which bleed in the brain fairly quickly, my husband's injury developed slowly, causing a massive bruise to form. One false move could have given him a stroke, or caused permanent brain damage.
Although my husband made it through brain surgery without incident, there is a lesson here. Never take a head injury for granted. When doctors looked at his scans in the ER in Florida, they obviously did not see the bruising that later formed over his brain. Because the brain is loaded with large and small blood vessels, head injuries can cause all sorts of serious problems. Studies have shown that athletes who suffer even minor concussions can develop neurological problems later in life. The brain is nothing to be messed with.
Ironically, March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. And although brain injuries are not as common as, say, broken bones, they do happen and many have serious consequences. They need to be treated immediately. In this story, my husband got treated, before suffering brain damage. He was fortunate. God bless her, but Ms. Richardson was not.
Have you ever faced head trauma? Know someone who has? What happened? We'd like to hear about it.
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On June 4th, 2008, my husband called at 12:30pm to say that he would be working a little later. When the phone rang again at about 3:30, I thought it would be him saying he was on his way home. It was an EMT telling me that my husband was in a bicycle accident (he always rode his bike to work). He was NOT wearing a helmet. They would be taking him to the hospital because he was complaining of shoulder pain and it looked like it was either dislocated or broken. I could hear him grumbling in the background about the pain. The EMT said to take my time as there was no hurry…it was nothing serious. A police officer brought my husband’s bike home and reiterated what the EMT had said.
When I got to the ER and gave my husband’s name, the receptionist turned pale and fumbled with her words. She couldn’t tell me anything, only that I had to speak with a social worker. I was brought to a small room where the social worker and the trauma team doctor told me the news. On route to the hospital my husband became ill, then he went unconscious and had to be intubated. They allowed me to see him for a little bit but then they sent my in-laws and me to the waiting room while they took him up to the floor.
About five minutes later, a doctor with a very serious face ran to the desk. I knew he was there for us. He took us to a small, private room and said that he had very little time to explain things. My husband had a subdural hematoma on the right side of his head. His brain was swelling into and killing off the left side of his brain. The only thing they could do was to remove the right side of his skull and hope for the best. My mother-in-law and I signed the authorization for the surgery and asked when it would take place. He hit a button on his beeper and said, “They’re starting now.”
When the surgery was over, the neurosurgeon told us what was expected. IF he made it through the night, there would be months and months of rehabilitation. He would need to relearn to walk, talk, and feed himself…everything all over again. There would be memory loss and possibly other problems to deal with even if he had a normal, healthy brain.
My husband’s brain was not normal. In the summer of 2007, he had three surgeries to try and remove blood clots from the left side of his head in the sagittal and sigmoid sinuses and also to embolize a Dural Arteriovenous Fistula that is sitting right above his brain stem. The clots are attributed to Factor V Leiden, a blood mutation that causes clotting. The fistula could not be fully cured and the blood clots could not be removed. Blood flow in his brain is not normal. For years he has been on daily doses of Plavix and aspirin which also caused problems with this hematoma.
By June 6th, he was off the ventilator and breathing on his own. When they allowed me back into the room I was shocked when he leaned over and said, “How long have I been in here?” He was able to tell us what happened with the accident. The neurosurgeon was in shock. It was a true miracle. Now came the hard part, telling him about the surgery, that part of his skull was removed and that he may not be able to walk. I told him it was best that the doctor tell him.
His skull was successfully replaced on June 13th but a blood clot in his leg, high fever and pressure in the brain sent him back to the ICU for a few days. He was progressing nicely but the health insurance company forced the doctors to release him on June 23rd. He was unable to walk more than 12-15 feet so we had to get him a wheelchair. We made four to five trips per week to the hospital for both neuro-related appointments and also for the Type 3 AC separation of his shoulder.
Miraculously, by September 2nd, he was just about back to normal and his doctor released him to go back to work on light duty. The doctor told us that of people with normal brains, 80 to 90% would have been at the very least paralyzed on one side if they had experienced trauma like this. The fact that he came through it with his abnormal brain is nothing short of a miracle. He is now back to work full time and continues to make progress with his memory and cognitive skills.
I am shocked and saddened by the death of Natasha Richardson. She was such a beautiful and talented woman and I enjoyed her performances on the big screen. I was praying that her family would receive the same miracle that our family did. My heart goes out to Liam and their children. God Bless!
I was at a picnic at a private residence and was walking from the home to my car. Night had fallen and I didn't see a ditch that was in my path. I had not noticed it earlier. I fell and the entire side of my left body hit the ground, including my head. I was frightened but I didn't go to the emergency room until several hours later; I decided that the aches and pain in my body needed attention. The hospital did not X-ray any injuries – not even my head, even though I described the hard fall that I had taken. They treated my external, visible injuries and sent me home. After what has happened to this beautiful young lady, I will forever be concerned that I may have damaged something in my brain and I'm not aware of it.
My daughter, age 8 at the time, had an innocent fall to the back of her head. She seemed fine, other than she said she was hearing a bit funny. My husband felt it was a burst ear drum.Other than that there there were no other signs. Her pupils were fine, she didnt have a headache, there was no bump, she felt fine. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary even 1 hour later. However I felt an over whelming need to take her to the ER. Turns out, she hit the back of her head that controls vital organs. A CAT scan revealed a epidural hematoma.Without ER surgery, she would have died that night. I asked the grey haired surgeon how many times he had done the surgery he was going to do on my young daughter: His reply: "less than ten. Most parents let their kids go to bed and "monitor" them. Their children never wake up."My daughter was in ICU for three days and the hospital for an additional five. I learned you can never be to careful with a brain injury.
I had a subdural hematoma at age 6. Back then (mid 60's) nobody wore them. They gave me 50-50 odds of living. If I lived, it was 50-50 I would be disabled. I landed on the very lucky part.
The funny part was that I didn't run right out and purchase one when they first became available. No, it was when the sales clerk mentioned that it was a $60 insurance policy against brain surgery (yeah, I know. It makes no such guarantee but it CAN make these things less instead of the worst scenario). I called my father and told him what the clerk had said. He wrote me the check to cover the "birthday present" while we were on the phone.
Always wear a helmet even if it isn't required.
What's inside is worth protecting at any age.
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In May of 1992 while riding my bicycle to work I was hit by a car. I was found lying by the road in a pool of blood, my bicycle helmet was crushed worse than any I have ever seen, but I was alive. I was life flighted to the local trauma center where it was determined I was bleeding in my brain. Thankfully the bleeding stopped on its own (I was in very good shape, riding my bicycle150+ miles a week). When I regained conciousness I couldn't walk by myself, go to the bathroom, or even make change for a dollar (Prior to this I was working as a Nuclear Engineer) after five days I went home and started a several year recovery. Today there are very few remaining effects from the crash, difficulty multitasking and a new outgoing personality. I am so thankful for the recovery and the opportunity to re-evaluate the priorities in my life.
My little boy who is now 2 1/2, fell down our hardwood staircase about 1 year ago. He cartwheeled about 2/3 of the way down hitting his head at least twice. He only cried for a few seconds and seemed ok. I called our pediatrician's after-hours number and the MD on call asked if he was throwing up or sleepy. I told him no. He told me to just observe him, put him in bed at his normal time, and wake him every hour or so to make sure he hadn't gone into a coma. I fed him his supper and while I was feeding him, I video'd him for a while. I didn't review that video for a while but when I did, his head was swollen. After supper, I bathed him, put him in bed and woke him as instructed. He seemed fine after that. However, after much hindsight, I wish I had taken him to the hospital. He's had some developmental delays in his speech and I'll probably never know the extent of any possible injuries because he's still so little and couldn't tell me how bad it was or what hurts. His head is bumpy in some places and I wonder if that's from the fall or just how it's growing since their skulls fuse together over time. He's better now but there's probably not a day that goes by that I don't think about this injury since I have so many regrets. Remember, when in doubt, go to the hospital! Especially with children...
My daughter had a head injury about 6 years ago when she was 3 1/2 years old. She fell backwards off a stool at a kitchen counter.
As soon as she fell, my instincts told me to take her the ER. My mother in law and husband thought I was over-reacting and wanted to "wait and watch". Within 30 minutes, she was unable to keep her eyes open as she slumped into a "sleepy" state. Her ability to speak was compromised. Then, a few minutes later, she was vomitting. Obviously, we all rushed her to the closest ER, and later after she was diagnosed with a concussion and hairline fracture on the back, base of her skull, she was transported to a trauma hospital to handle her case.
It is really scary to see your child, limp, confused, almost "dizzy". I couldn't believe that within hours, she was bouncing back to her usual self. She stayed overnight as a precaution. But, she played in the playroom of the children's wing, watched TV, ate tons of snacks, toyed with the mechanical bed. She left the hospital, less than 24 hours after her fall, and she luckily has not had any obvious lasting effects.
I am terrified by Natasha Richardson's tragic death. This could happen to any kid who falls out of a swing, or off a perch during monkey play!
How could her seemingly innocent tumble leave her dead, while my daughter's powerful fall and "serious sounding" injury resolve itself quickly and fully?
My husband was injured in a sporting accident several years ago while in high school. He hit his head and was knocked out. After he came to, his coach said it would be normal for him to experience headaches that night because a knockout was a form of a concussion. So his parents took him home to rest and sure enough he suffered the most severe headache overnight and it wasn't until the next day when he collapsed with seizures that he was rushed to the hospital where he endured 4 major brain operations and even died on the operating table for a long time before being revived. He was lucky that the best neurosurgeon in the area just happened to have come into the hospital when he was brought in suffering a massive cerebral hemorage. He was not expected to survive the first surgery and his parents were told he would not survive. He is a walking miracle today...an answer to many prayers and the good work of this doctor and his family. He had a very long recovery and spent the better part of a year completely paralyzed. We are thankful that he survived!
When my daughter was 4 years old(20 plus years ago) she bumped her head on a concrete floor when she played with her brothers and cousins. She came in crying and sat on my father's lap. We looked at it and it appeared to be just a scrape. She fell asleep in my father's arms–undoubtedly tired from crying and it being naptime. When Dad left soon after, he laid her in her bed to sleep. Within a few minutes she woke up and threw up. We then took her immediately to the hospital where they x-rayed her head, looking for any fracture. She was placed in the observation room where she continued to sleep. The doctor woke her at quarter hour intervals and checked her pulse, pupils and other vitals, she'd throw up again then go back to sleep. She was observed for over seven hours when she awoke on her own, jumped off the gurney and ran to the bathroom to pee!
My precious daughter was OK and allowed to go home, but I've routinely kicked myself every day since then because I even allowed her to go to sleep in the first place before even taking her for medical attention. I should have known. Life is so fragile.
I was playing tennis with new tennies a few years back when my shoe gripped the court while I was turning and I fell on the side of my head. What a dreadful sound! No worries, I got up and kept playing and didn't have any post-fall problems. Now that I know better, I would seek help if there were a next time. But what a sad time for the Richardson/Redgrave family.
I have a very close friend who slipped and fell and hit her head over 18 months ago. She lost consciousness for a few seconds and was transported to the hospital by ambulance, even though she insisted she was fine, mostly because it happened at work and they wanted to cover themselves. She didn't have any visible signs on her head and the CT scan didn't show anything. She also reinjured and old brachial nerve injury and was in substantial pain from that. She had dizziness and headaches but her shoulder hurt so much she didn't pay a lot of attention to it. Until about 6 weeks later she started taking less pain medication and suddenly realized the the headaches were very bad, that she couldn't focus on tasks properly, wasn't sleeping well and was developing anxiety/panic disorder. Because it was a worker's compensation claim she had to fight and threaten lawyers before they would send her to any one to look at the head injury and kept changing doctors on her when none of them would say she could go back to work and that she needed testing for closed head traumatic brain injury/post concussion disorder. She finally paid for a couple of specialists on her own and they were horrified that she had had NO treatment for over 6 months. Since then, this bright high school math teacher has been declared permanently disabled, is seeing a psychiatrist for the anxiety and panic issues, a cognitive therapist to try to learn how to cope with memory problems and day to day activities. She also suffers hearing hyper acuity- every sound in a room is the same level. Crowds are terrible, even restaraunts are difficult. One marble in a hallway has changed her entire life forever and though she lived through it there have been days that she has wished she didn't.
In the late 80s, after an ice-storm in Oklahoma City, I dropped by the Post Office after picking my son up from school. Upon getting out of the car very carefully, I gingerly stepped over the cement barrier in the parking lot and proceeded toward the door. Several feet after the barrier, I slipped and fell straight backward, hitting the back of my head on the barrier, with my neck tilted upward. Needless to say, it knocked me silly... I could think and hear, but I was unable to respond as my son stood over me screaming and crying. I literally saw stars and it took a minute for me to gather my thoughts and get up. I had no outward damage... just a regular-strength headache for a few hours. I took several aspirin and went on with my day! I did NOT go to the ER or call my doctor... In retrospect, I've wondered for years how I survived such a potentially fatal incident! I guess my youth prevented my taking the incident as seriously as I would now! I think I will tell my doctor about it when I next have a check-up and get his feedbacl! I was blessed! Sadly, Natasha Richardson was not as fortunate!
I hit my chin on the steering wheel and my forehead hit the windshield after a relatively minor car accident in which I wasn't wearing a seatbelt (I know! I've never done that since) At the time, other than some soreness in my chin I felt fine, so I didn't think it was necessary to be taken to the hospital on a stretcher by ambulance and in one of those things that immobilize your head. Thankfully, I really was fine, but now I realize why it was necessary, and why paramedics are so careful.
Hopefully in the future whenever someone hits their head in a fall, even if they seem fine, people around them will realize the necessity of calling paramedics in anyway. In addition, I hope this tragic accident makes people realize that skiiers, and perhaps even ice skaters, should wear helmets.
Good and informative article. Your husband's life is a miracle. Verrrrrry Lucky!
It just seems obvious that helmets should be mandatory whenever a person is using a vehicle motorized or not (and this can include skis, skateboards, bicycles, motorcycles mopeds,scooters, etc.) that allow the person to go faster than is normal and involves a sense of particular balance.
Yes, I know, tht others will write that just walking could result in the same end but I am hard pressed to recall any instances that are as highly publicized as others mentioned.
I hit my head pretty hard about 7 years ago, and when it happened, I just assumed that it would be sore and I would have a bruise on my head for a while. I was fine for a few hours, but later that night, I started seeing two of everything, I couldn't keep my head up, and I felt like I was moving even though I was sitting still. My friends took me to the ER and while I was diagnosed with a moderate concussion, they did a cat scan to check for a hematoma. Hearing about Natasha Richardson, it made me very grateful that my friends made me go to the hospital to at least have the doctors look at me.
This story comes from a blog my company sponsors related to Brain Science. Jay Gunkelman shares his story of his fathers fall and subsequent head injury.
On Saturday evening I spoke with my father, who just returned to Arizona from the Thanksgiving holiday back in North Dakota. I quickly noticed that he had trouble putting the ending to a thought, and specific words were difficult for him to "find". I knew he had fallen about four weeks ago on the ice, and hit his head on the concrete. At the time they were worried about possible rib fractures, though they did suture his left eyebrow at the time.
I put two and two together, and figured he had a big likelihood of a subdural hematoma putting pressure on his language and speech motor areas on the left frontal dorso-lateral area. Subdurals are common in elderly individuals who fall and hit their head, and need to be ruled out if there is a recurrent or persistent complaint following TBI. He complained of headaches which were unrelenting, but they had not scanned him even with his returns to their medical plan 2-3 times in the weeks following the fall.
I figured it would be impossible for him to tell the ER what he needed (as CT or MRI to look for the subdural), so I wrote him an e-mail summary of the findings and pertinent history for my mother to print out and take with them. I sent my elderly father and mother off to the ER, and my dad didn’t want to go because he figured he would miss football games. By Sunday noon, he was in the neurosurgeon’s hands, and they removed a LARGE subdural of 150 Ccs. He is now fine, with all his language skills returned. He even caught the late game on the tube.
After the surgical prep my mother called, and I was asked to “call the doctor”, and I rang in on the neurosurgeon’s headset when he had my dad’s head open. It was a pretty routine evacuation of a subdural, but they were very happy to be handed the case on a platter with the e-mail. He said he was surprised at the "diagnosis" done via telephone and gut instinct, but even more by the accuracy of the localization of the subdural to the left dorso-lateral frontal as well as left temporal areas. The subdural was very large, and encompassed the entire area described.
I’ve had enough drama for the holidays. You would think maybe he will stop bugging me to be a doctor now.
Jay Gunkelman's involvement in applied psychophysiology and biofeedback dates back to 1972 with the grant funding of the first State Hospital based biofeedback laboratory. Since the mid 1970s he has specialized in classical clinical EEG, and today Jay is one of the most experienced EEG/qEEG specialists in the world.
That is a scary story. I am glad your husband pulled through. I just wonder how available the medical help is sometimes. It is still unclear to me when to sound the alarm on minor hits to the head. Ms. Richardson fell on powdered snow and still got a blunt force trauma. My kids had fallen on their heads since toddlerhood quite a few times. I was told to look at their eyes, check for bruises behind the ears and make sure that they don't hit their heads around critical areas around the temples and the ears.
Also, medical help does not always carry a sense of urgency. Scheduling is difficult, you visit your doctor and she/he writes you a referral to schedule for a scan a while later. When does one scream and fight for an earlier CT?
Thanks for the article, and this is something that we can all take more seriously.
My heart goes out to Liam Neeson and his sons, as well as the family of Natasha Richardson and all those who loved her. She was a great actress and a very vibrant person. Although it didn't garner a huge amount of awards, "Nell" has always been, and will always be, one of my favorite movies. If you are a fan of Natasha and haven't yet seen Nell, you should...it's a truly beautiful film.
If there is any good that can come of this tragedy, it's that the increased awareness of the dangers of head injuries may prevent this from happening to other people.
Natasha, God bless you and my thoughts and prayers are with your family. At times like this I find comforting the words of Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, upon hearing about the death of Adams' wife Abigail:
"...it is of some comfort to us both that the term is not very distant at which we are to deposit our sorrows and suffering bodies, and to ascend in essence to an ecstatic meeting with the friends we have loved and lost and whom we shall still love and never lose again."
My father suffered a mild heart attack in October. He had an angioplasty done two days later. The blood thinners that were given to him during this time was causing a slow bleeding in his brain. He was having visual disturbances and was confused PRIOR to the angioplasty. These are classic signes that were unfortunately ignored by the nurses. After the angiplasty he was complaining of severe head pain. He was given pain killers which he threw up. The best the nurse would do was give an ice-pack we insisted for the doctor on call. He stated his head pain was due to the medication and left it at that. More painkillers were given. My father slipped into a coma, he had a stroke that was not picked up on by the medical staff. When the nurses finally realized whatwas going on, he was put on a respirator and sent in for a CT. He was given a 4% chance of surviving surgery and a 10% chance of recovery. By the grace of god he has made a full recovery, but he is now suffering from extreme anxiety because of this. Please insist, cause a scene, do whatever you have to to get a CT scan done as soon as possible if the patient is on blood thinners.
I am a 73 year old male. In May of 2005 I was riding in a golf cart taking pictures of the tees for my organizations newsletter when the person driving the cart made sudden left turn throwing me onto the ground. My glasses were ripped off my face and my camera was ripped from my hands. Although stunned I was able to pick my self up and drive home. Two days later I was having difficulty walking so I saw my primary care physician. He arranged for me to have CT scan of my head made. After the radiologist looked at the CT scan I was immediately sent to ER. I was told that they called a neurosurgeon. When he saw the the CT scan he told me I had subdural hematoma that was pushing the brain to the side of the skull. He said he had to operate immediately. But first they had to do a plasma blood exchange because I was on coumadin. After the blood exchange they did the craniotomy. It was successful and I spent 14 days in the hospital recovering. Because of the quick way I was handled by the radiologist and the ER physicians and the neurosurgeion I recovered fully and can write to you about this incident,
My 2 yr old daughter was playing on the playground about 2 weeks ago. She was in an open car playground structure and fell backward and hit her head on a wooden board. She cried pretty hard but seemed to be OK after about 5 minutes. It was hard enough a fall to make a loud thunk sound when her head hit the wood. It was the back of her head. She has been fine ever since. I now wonder if I should have (or should still) have her checked out. How do you know when it's serious enough to go to the dr.? I'm sure she will have many a fall through the years to come, she's only 2. I consider myself pretty protective of her on the playground. She is fearless, wants to do everything her older sister does. Anyway, just curious... should I take her to dr. or is everything probably fine since it's 2 weeks later and she doesn't seem to have any other symptoms? Any advice for parents in similar situation so we know how to tell the severity of a situation?
One issue with sub vs. epidural hematoma is the mechanics, not the rate of blood leakage into either space. As I understand it, a slow leak subdurally an be better compensated for by compression of the brain tissue. Eventually there'll be signs of the problem, but the degree of leak can be more severe than one above the dura which forces the rigid dura to press onto the brain.
Is this the same type of injury that ABC newscaster Bob Wodruff suffered in Iraq? I remember something about his story saying the Army doctors knew to open his skull to allow room for the swelling & that if he had been in the United States and suffered a similar injury, the doctors would not have taken such drastic measures. I'm just wondering if this type of procedure would have saved Ms. Richardson?
I am a snowboarder of 11 years and at 21, I've had my fair share of concussions roughly five, all while wearing a helmet. I never felt head injuries had an impact on my life or my body, until now. After reading the article on New England Patriot's (my home team) Ted Johnson, and more recently the passing of Natasha Richardson, my views on head injuries have changed dramatically. I realize you are given this one body for your entire life and one fall my take it right away from you. My view of snowboarding, my true passion has drastically changed as well, as I am timid to even ride down an easy slope, and now try to avoid terrain parks (designated obstacles for snowboarders and skiers to jump on and over) a place where I would consistently spend my time on the ski hill. I urge people to take this matter of head injuries quite seriously as you will never know when you, family member, or friend will have their life taken away in a blink of an eye or over a longer less obvious period of time. My prayers go to the family and friends of all effected people who endured traumatic brain injuries.
Oh my God, that is so terrifying.
Six months ago yesterday, (sept 18 2008) I was hit on the head by a tree while at work cutting timber. Luckily the jobsite was close to my hometown of Missoula, Montana. The force destroyed the suspension on my hardhat, cutting my scalp and bleeding quite a bit. I had lost consciousness for an indefinite amount of time, so I knew I should go to the ER. I figured (knowing self diagnosis is a no-no, but what the hell) that I had suffered a concussion, so I didn't want to order emergency services and leave the hospital the same day. So my sawing partner drove me to the hospital to get checked out. My head was technically OK, but my C5-7 vertebrae were fractured and needed fusion. For a solid couple months after the accident and surgery I couldn't make any new memories and became worried about my brain condition. Then media reports appeared showing new studies on ex-NFL players and roadside bomb shockwave victims, and how damaged their brains can actually be without showing outward physical signs.
Since then my memory seems to have returned to normal. I have enrolled in classes, which was also due to the timber industry's slump, and been able to resume a normal life.
This really scares me. Last September I fell out of the back of my daughters SUV head first on the concrete...my feet never touched the ground. It sounded like an explosion in my head. I didn't go to the hospital because I didn't have insurance. As I sat in the car I felt a little faint and when the rescue squad came, they asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital...I declined. The blow was just right above and to the left corner of my left eye socket. The bruising got worse over a period of days and lasted quite some time...the soreness and tenderness in that area lasted for months. Even now I feel pressure in my temple area at times. Several days after the accident, I went to my doctor and they took xrays of the area and apparently saw no cracks in my skull...never had a scan done or anything like that. Could there still be something there after six months that could cause me problems in the future. I just can't believe there wasn't any bleeding internally, the impact was tremendous...sounded like I had cracked my skull open...very little outward bleeding. Is there is anyone who could advise about this, I would really appreciate it. Makes me wonder if there is still something going on that could be potentially harmful in the future.
I was rearended in a car wreck and unknowingly had my head break the back glass in my compact Toyota pickup. The highway trooper on the scene asked if I felt okay and running my hand through my hair I first discovered blood on my finger (later to be sourced from a hematoma raised on my scalp). On advise from my company nurse I went to the emergency room and received a CT scan on both my head and chest with nothing found to be problematic internally. In the months and couple of years following I've noticed more episodes of headaches and occassional times of less than normal balance. Should I be concerned of a latent defect a CAT scan would miss within a couple hours of the accident?
My son was in a car accident years ago, electric transformer came down on car where he was sitting, hit his head hard on windshield bleeding from the front, not too bad. but never had it looked at,, i noticed he over time does not seem to make good decisions for himself,, nicest guy in the world and gets taken advantage of his kindness from people. Finally after a few years agreed to get a MRI and it came out fine, but he is still not the same... Too kind and vulnerable and almost child like... i worry so much about him and that it will continue to slowly get worse and feel like something was missed on the mri,, maybe scar tissue covering problem since that test was so far after the accident. Could that be possible.
I fell off my horse about 9 1/2 years ago. i slammed down hard onto my neck, back and hips. I didn't feel anything initially, and when I got back to the stables, I had more trouble walking than with a head ache. To this day, I have no recollection of the accident, how I got home or to work. I don't recall going to the hospital or what was said to me. Only that I had a headache, high pitched whining in my left ear and dizziness. I do remember saying to myself when i was talking to a friend of mine, to stay focused and get him to keep talking to me no matter what. Eventually the high pitched whining stopped and the dizzines subsided and I was able to focus again. But it truly scared me. I do remember not being able to sleep the night of the accident. I kept waking up and was in so much pain I cried the whole night but that is all I can remember. The rest of the three days is just a blank. I don't ride horses anymore because of the accident. Because I don't remember what was said to me at the hospital I didn't see a neurologist. I'm pretty sure I had an X-ray donem, but I consider myself lucky others unfortunately are not.
My 5-month-old daughter had a subdural hematoma 4 years ago after I tripped while holding her and she hit the floor. The experience was obviously very distressing. She began screaming right after it happened but what was more troubling is that she fell asleep about 10 minutes later. I knew I had to get her to the hospital. By the time we arrived, at the ER she was awake and smiling, but one side of her head was swelling. I was shocked when we were told she had the bleeding near the brain and had to stay overnight in the pedi ICU. She ended up having a number of CT scans to make sure the bleeding cleared - otherwise she would've required surgery. Over the years I have agonized on and off about subjecting my baby to these CT scans. The tragic story of Natasha Richardson has brought me some peace...now I am able to better understand my doctors' decisions and the severity of what could have occurred, had we left the bleed unchecked.
Yes, I can offer an experience that occured to me. I hope it wil extend information helpful to others. We live in a small rural town far north in California. At our small-town shopping center a few years ago I took four bagfulls of groceries from the cart, adhering to a tradition my husband and I followed to carry our groceries as part of our exercise.
So I turned toward the electronic-opening doors and within a brief moment saw a fellow sitting on the pavement outside of the doorway. I immediately thought, "I'm going to be panhandled." In the next split second I was airborn with two bags of groceries on each arm carrying me through the air so that the electric-opening door never opened, and I crashed into the bottom metal panel of the door. Later I was told that the crash of my head against the metal was so loud that it was heard throughout the entire front section of the store.
Additionally, due tot the groceries I carried, I landed amidst them and injured knees, hand, and elbows.
This accident happened four years ago. Since I had worked at our local hospital for 17 years, I knew what to look for and declined to go to the ER, especially because we had a $5000 deductible on our health care plan. All afternoon I monitored any potential symptoms which would indicate a change in plans.
The blow I took hit squarely on the bone beneath my left eyebrow. I believe that this dense bone protected me from the more severe trauma Natasha has succumbed to. (That summer I did detect symptoms which my skilled optician diagnosed as retinal holes in the left eye.) Yet after my experience, I would certainly recommend to anyone - and to myself at any future time - that a close examination should take place.
May Natasha be surrounded by all our prayers and hopes for her higher evolution...Lily
Our four year old daughter suffered a subdural hematoma in 1981, while I was at work. She was playing upstairs, as her mother dried the hair of our sixteen month old downstairs. We really do not know exactly what happened, but we think she was climbing on the bed or the dresser, and fell and hit her head.
Anyway, I came home from work, and she had a bump on her head and my wife took her to the ER, while I watched the little one. They took X-Rays and did an exam on her, which showed nothing to alarm us. They said to watch her. Well, I went to work very the early next morning, and about 8:00-9:00 AM, my wife called me and said that our little girl could not walk straight, she was groggy, and had thrown up during the night. I said take her to our doctor. She went to our MD, and he said to take her immediately to the Children’s Hospital.
We did that. As we went into the ER, I was berated by a security guard for parking my car in spaces reserved for Doctors. I threw the guy my keys and told him, "You park it, find me by the license plate, and talk to me about it later," as I carried my hurting three year old into the ER. It seemed like hours, but it was not that long before we were seen by a doctor. They then called in the Chief Neurologist. He said that they would have to do some tests and determine a course of action. Another day went by.
By that time, our daughter was lethargic, had lost movement the entire right side of her body, and her speech was slurred. Late that afternoon, she was taken to surgery. While a Resident cautioned us that this was very risky, and advised us that we should reconsider surgery, we went ahead. After the Resident came by, the anesthesiologist came in and explained what he was going to do, then, the surgeon came in and explained what he was going to do. I asked the surgeon about what the resident said, and he said, "This is what I do, I do it every day, and I am very good at it! Do not worry; your daughter will be fine." He was cocky about it! But it was reassuring to me.
I said my prayers, left it in the hands of the surgeon and in God's Hands, and to His Will, and I slept very hard through the several hours of surgery on a very uncomfortable couch in the waiting room with family around us. They woke me up at least once for snoring.
About 8:00-9:00 PM they said that we could see her in recovery. We all went down and most everyone broke down at that time, as they had her head heavily bandaged, and had her in restraints to keep her from hurting herself as she came out of the anesthesia. My wife and the rest of the family went home and I stayed, since I had had several hours of sleep by now.
After an hour or so, I asked if I could spend some time with my daughter, and the nurses agreed. I was there as she woke up and was able to hold her and comfort her as she awoke. And then let her sleep in my lap through the night. I watched the funeral of Anwar Sadat, from Egypt after his assassination on the TV at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning.
They brought her a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast, and she said, ""I need to eat the crust, momma said it will make my hair curl” She did not know that she had no hair on one side of her head. The next day, I used my mustache scissors to cut off most of the other side and even it up, while we sat in the hospital room
That night, and over the next several days, as I spent time I was humbled and touched by how blessed we (me and my family) are. During my time sitting with our daughter in recovery, a child came in with a drug overdose and several cigarette burns. Another child came in that had swallowed rat poison. They were in great pain and had no one with them.
I was also heartened by the compassion shown by others. While we were in a semi-private room after recovery, we shared the room with a child and adoptive parents. Those parents had I think foster or adopted special needs children. This particular child was in for surgery on her eyes. This was not her first surgery, it was probably her fourth. There were children down the hall that had no one to comfort them. It was heartbreaking.
Our daughter, who suffered the traumatic head injury, fully recovered and now has her PhD, and is teaching at a university in the Midwest. Our younger daughter is now a Pediatrician and her husband is an Internist.
My heart and prayers go out to the family and friends of Natasha Richardson. If there is rock buried under shallow snow and one hits their head hard against it, it can cause an epidural or a subdural hematoma that can cause great damage, as was suffered by Natasha Richardson. I am very sorry for their loss.
All That unnessary extra detail made me want to punch myself in the face..✊🏼🤐
Head injuries are indeed nothing to take lightly. When my now ten year old son was seven, I received a call from his school, they told me he was in the office lethargic and not feeling well. Having other children with strep in the house, I called my pediatrician for an appointment and headed off to pick him up. When I arrived he was curled in a ball. I helped him to the car and he promptly began throwing up. When I reached over to feel his head, my blood ran cold, he had no fever. I asked him to try to talk to me but he told me he couldn't it hurt too much. I was closer to my doctors office than the hospital and drove as quickly as I could, by the time we arrived 15 minutes later I had to carry him into the building. We were very lucky that day to have a happy ending. He had a head concussion that apparently he had sustained unnoticed at recess. He came to the school office with the beginning symptoms of brain trauma but nobody knew to look for the signs. Had I not gotten there so quickly or noticed that while he was throwing up so violently he had no fever I might have just taken him home and put him to sleep to never wake up or worse he could have gone into the bathroom at school and passed out. A little bump on the head at the right angle and location is deadly and should never, ever be ignored.
I also suffered epidural hematoma that occured during a raquetball game. I had slipped on a portion of a wet floor and crashed into the side wall at full speed. Beiing unconscoius, I awoke in ER. Feeling OK, I got up and started out of ER. I felt blood coming out of my ear and immediately returned to ER and they found that I had fractured my skull in 2 places along with 4 bleeds. Against the doctors advise, I opted not to get surgery and elected to remain in a South Korean hospital for 2 additional weeks. I was lucky, but still feel the effects of the injury to the tune of severe headaches. Correct, do not take head injuries too lightly. The Doctor Staff all agreed that I should have terminated. I am a veteran raquetball player of 23 years, and that last game almost cost me my life.
This past summer i was working on a machine where i work. I had climbed on this machine we had just bought to look for some wires that had caused a problem in it. As i was preparing to get down I fell. I fell about 10-12 feet where my head hit another machine below knocking me unconscious. Luckily for me, my father was working close by and heard me yell on my way down. He rushed over to find me in a pile on the floor with blood all over the floor and machine that i had hit. My skull exposed. Immediately he panicked and ran over and began to cry thinking i was dead. He screamed for help but no one could hear him. He ran to get help. 911 was called. My uncle ran over and put the skin that had been scalped off my head back on best he could and began to apply pressure to try and stop the bleeding. The ambulance came and took me to hospital. They took cat scans and confirmed there was only a massive concussion and no brain damage. It took two doctors 3 and a half hours to stitch my head closed. I dont remember much of it. I kept going in and out of consciousness while they stitched. I just remember vomiting alot and the bandage on my head being taken off and it feeling like a wet towel. I spent the next week in the hospital. I had lost about half of my blood and i was kept to make sure no problems occured from the head injury. I receicved two units of blood two days later because they didnt want to give it to me right away figuring i was young and being O-neg they were reluctant to give it to me at first. But i ended up having to get it. I was told by one of the doctors who stitched me that i was one of the luckiest guys he had ever met. He told me i probably hit my head the best way possible by not hitting it bluntly. Instead i hit it on an angle on top and literally scalped my head. To put it in visiual perspective the skin on my skull was peeled back from my forehead to behind my ears. He also told me my young age was a great factor in helping me in the amount of blood that i lost. So I consider myself a lucky guy. All i have to show is massive scarring all over my head, but i have been fortunate my hair has grown in to cover most of the scars. So I too know how serious head injuries can be.
I've had a head trauma.
I live in Canada. A friend and I were heading home from dinner with some relatives in winter. We were going downhill on an "s" turn. On the second corner we hit some ice and went over a bank an into a creek with his van. I hit my head on the passenger side of the vehicle similiar to the story posted. My friend had a broken wrist and was hit in shoulder with a tool box but thankfully no head injuries on his end.
I believe one of the only things to save my life that day was the sub zero temprature as it was very very cold that day (-30 C / -22 F). In fact it was a downright miracle in many ways. I was told that because it was so cold that it stopped alot of my swelling on the head otherwise I very well might have passed out right there. My family lived on a ranch in the middle of nowhere and from where the accident took place, it was about a 4 mile hike back, in darkness, and injuries to boot. Once we were able to walk back to the relatives, it was another 1 hour drive to the nearest hospital. In that hour of driving, from what I was told, I kept on repeating myself every few minutes saying the exact same thing. It really worried my friend and family to say the least. I looked like a train wreck.
I was hit hard enough that I cannot to this day remember anything about walking back the 4 miles or the additional hour trip to the hosptial, or anything about that night. I just remember waking up the next morning about 12 hours later. They told me everything was 'alright'. To this day I'm not so sure. I think this is where the insult added to injury so to speak....
I think I had alot of post traumatic stress but didn't want to admit it or was too afraid. I was also taking advantage of by the insurance company on my injury. I was young, barely out of high school,and didn't think about the "after effects" or "long term effects" of an injury to the head. Bascially, I just let everyone tell me that I was
"OK" or "Alright". I mean, who was I to argue right? I mean i felt fine and all! I sure wish I had someone to tell me their story at the time or give me 'real advice' of how to handle myself. I think that's why when I get a chance to post my story I do. To this day I still have trouble focusing, keeping attention or keeping it together amongst other things. My memory can definately cause me some issues and it's not so fun forgetting things all the time, especially for my wife! That reminds me, it's garbage day tomorrow!
So here's my advice to back up the initial story posted.
Do NOT let anyone tell you its "OK" or "Alright".
Do NOT try to play the tough guy or girl and laugh it off. You do NOT know what's in store for you later on.
Do NOT sign off on 'anything' that release anyone else from liability until you have gone through a "complete" process and are told everything there is to know about head trauma of any sort by various professionals. (if there are others involved that are applicable)
Always do a regular check-up after head trauma and let your doctor know that you want to ensure there are NO post problems occuring. Report 'any' strange things you may feel or that is different.
If your doctor says it isn't 'necessary' or doesn't want to do these tests, get a new doctor and explain what you know to be true.
What is true is that head injuries can cause you grief after the fact
or without any signs.
Guess we need to wear helmets all the time...
I've had two injuries to My head, One when I was 3 years old, I was told I was running to greet My Dad and tripped and fell onto a floor heater grate, The next time was when I was either 9 or 10 years old(1969 or 1970) and had run into the rear end of a pickup truck and My head required stitches while I was bringing some groceries back home from the liquor store for My Mom while I was riding My bicycle as I had the bag in one hand and I was controlling the bike with the other hand. Today I can get up and sometimes feel light headed, which even happened in front of a nurse recently and since I had enough blood pressure It was ignored and of course I'm a disabled person, But not cause of head trauma.
When I was about 7 years old, I was running north to south and another girl I didn't see was running east to west, and we collided. Then, in my 20's, as a passenger in a car, I was in a serious car accident resulting in my hip being broken in three places, my leg and three ribs also broken. With both of these accidents, I woke up in the hospital after being unconsious for 36 to 48 hours. After reading about the quick onset and death of Natasha Richardson makes me realize how serious both of my accidents were, and how lucky I was to wake up. Because of the seriousness of these two incidents, I can't help but wonder what lasting effects, if any, were done to my brain. My heart goes out to Natasha's family, and I hope this story impresses upon everyone the seriousness of any brain injury.
In 1999 I fell on the ice on my way to my car in parking lot, and hit my head, knocking myself out. (I was alone.) I hit the back of my head on the curb, and then the pavement. I woke up in a puddle of melted ice, and had to haul myself up into the car using the front tire. I was totally out of it and alone. I sat in the car while it warmed up for almost an hour, talking to myself and seeing if I had broken anything. I thought I had been mugged. Then I (out of it) drove myself home, where I could not sleep for the pain in my head and muscles. I did go to the hospital the next day but the head injury was not the focus of the medical team – my other injuries were: torn muscles, bruising, etc. I think because head injuries cannot be seen by the naked eye, and my eyes were tracking well, I did not vomit, and I 'failed' other tests for head injury, it was not taken seriously. Ten years later I am not the same person. I cannot remember things, I have holes in my memory, and I am easily confused. I have been fearful, chronically depressed and anxious; irresponsible in certain areas of my life; and it feels as though something of "myself" went away. I feel like I will always wonder exactly how much damage the fall did to me; I also feel like doctors just don't have enough time or patience with head injuries. As I read about poor Natasha Richardson, I am feeling extremely lucky right now. Depressed and confused, but lucky.
The death of Natasha Richardson is unbelievably tragic. I understand that her death is from head trauma, but I have no idea if she was wearing a helmet or not wearing helmet. I think it is absurd that no articles published regarding her death have discussed this – especially CNN. There is a respectable way to say "Mrs. Richardson wasn't wearing a protective helmet" without offending her or her family. And, more importantly, if she was not wearing a helmet it needs to be made known to snowboarders, skiiers, bikers, rollerbladers, hockey players, etc.. who blow off wearing helmets. Thanks!
I developed a subdural hemotoma from passing out and hitting my head on the sidewalk in NYC. I had passed out from pulminary embolisms in my lungs that were restricting the flow of blood to my brain. The DVT that caused the embolism resulted from a flight back from Australia several weeks earlier.I was rushed to Lenox Hill Hospital (where Natasha Richardson was transferred) by emergency ambulance. In the ER, doctors had never faced a situation of an individual having pulminary embolism combined with a subdural hemotoma nor was there any literature on the combination. Because of the hemotoma ,doctors couldn't treat me with the procedure that thins your blood and explodes the clot(a 3 letter drug which I've forgot). Doctors had to perform two embolictomies to address the clots in my lungs and a thrombectomy in one leg. We had to wait 21 days until the subdural hemotoma liquified and could be drained through surgery. I spent 37 days in Intensive Care at Lenox Hill. The quick access to the ER , vascular and nuerological doctors and their incredible skills saved my life several times over. Today the only signs of that trama is the slight indentation in my forehead where the extraction was done. It was ultimately found out in the hospital that I have V liden factor . I now take 10mg of warfarin daily and need to wear compression socks. It was sad that Natasha Richardson didn't get treatment immediately or be in a position for the doctors at Lenox Hill to help her as they did me. Symptoms of DVT's, pulminary embolisms or any head trama must be address quickly and not ignored.as the doctors remind me, I'm a very lucky individual. I only wish Natasha Richardson was as lucky.
I suffered a concussion after a car accident. What amazes me is the force that the accident had, versus the seemingly minor fall of Ms. Richardson.
It makes me think that the delay in treatment, really not with the paramedics, but rather having to go to a small hospital close to the slopes, then a larger hospital, affected her horrible outcome.
What a timely article as my 17 year old son Caleb just took a nasty fall while playing basketball this afternoon at the local rec center. He was experiencing excruciating pain and thought he'd broken both wrists. An orthopedic surgeon was able to see him fairly quickly and determined that 2 bones were fractured in his right wrist (the left wrist may also have a slight fracture along with a severe sprain). After sharing the diagnosis with me, the doctor mentioned the possibility of head trauma and having a CT scan–I was focused on his wrists and not thinking about his head that had hit the wall of the gym.
As he did not have any symptoms, such as headache, nausea, confusion, etc., we chose not to have a CT scan this afternoon. I will be waking him throughout the night to check on him.
Another good article on head trauma can be found at–
One of the physicians interviewed felt a scan was not necessary if the patient had not exhibited any symptoms, as in Caleb's case.
My husband suffered 3 concussions – 2 as a kid (playing football) and one as a young adult (from an ATV accident). Apparently the part of his brain most affected is his memory – short and long term. Some events of his life are completely blanked from his memory, as if they never existed.
The language area is affected in that he has trouble speaking & putting correct words together & he can't spell simple things. He also mispronounces many words and can't hear the difference between the wrong version and the right version when someone tries to correct him.
He is functional in that he works and has a wife & family, but sometimes his memory issues can cause problems. He cannot remember people's names or faces and he certainly can't match names TO the faces. Also, if he's only met a person a few times, he likely will not remember them on a subsequent meeting, even if I prompt him with stories of their previous meetings.
It's strange because new memories and old memories are similarly affected. He won't remember someone he met a few days ago and he won't recognize a childhood buddy he knew for years. In the latter case, he CAN remember the fun times he & his buddy had together, but can't put that with the face. He says it's like his buddy had a face transplant because there is not even a tinge of recognition. But he also can't search his memory to see WHAT he believes his friend looks like. In his memory, his friend is faceless.
Obviously, my husband often experiences frustration and embarrassment due to this but there's really nothing he can do except say he has a terrible memory. He absolutely won't tell people he has brain damage because he says it's humiliating. Male pride, sigh .... 😉
So we should get a CAT scan for every knock on the head? Hit your head on a shelf, a knock against a door, a child bumps against the side of a table...? How can we judge what level of force is the tipping point to get to the emergency room? Check the eyes for dilated pupils....Check for dizziness or suddenly feeling tired. For how long?
Your article suggest the danger could seep for months. So we freak out for 6 weeks while the brain heals.
This is a tragic accident in the article and to Ms Richardson.
Dr. Gupta, what are the criteria for actually going to the hospital?
Do the criteria vary by age?
My daughter suffered two incidents of head trauma when she was about six years old, one shortly after the other.
She hit her head on a glass McDonalds's door that didn't open completly.
She had several stitches. Noone at the emergency room spoke of possible future consequences.
Then a ladder fell on her a few weeks later.
Hit her in the head.
All this in Santa Fe, New Mexico, some thirty years ago or so.
In the last few years, she has been suffering migraines, and a worsening of head pain, that no one seems to be able to figure out.
Is there a place that can help?
Is it possible that what she is experiencing now is a result, years later, of what she experienced at a very young age?
My brother Greg was in a bad motorcycle wreak,And had very bad head injurys he had to have brain surgery,the Dr,said he modt likly would not be right ever again that on a scale 1 to 10 1 being brain dead,he probably wouldnt pass a 4.But bu the grace of God and awesome work from Dr.s and nurses and all at the rehab hosptial he is very normal not exactly the same as b-4 but if you didnt know him b-4 you would never know but if you did know him b-4 you can tell slightly.We are very happy that mt brother lived and that he does not have any major brain problems..He is our miracal
My son, who is now 25 and a management consultant, was playing a college soccer game. He was going in hard for a header (using your head to strike the ball) when the goalkeeper came out to punch the ball away. He struck my son just below the eye instead. Both players were going at full force, my son was probably 10 inches shorter and 75 pounds lighter than the goalkeeper. My son was knocked unconscious and suffered a grand mal seizure. He was unconscious for several minutes.
My son was transported to a teaching hospital 30 miles away in order to receive immediate care from a neurologist. He was given a CT scan and released in less than one hour. I was at my home over a thousand miles away begging the neurologist on the phone to keep him over night and not release him to fly home with his college team. The neurologist categorically refused.
My son flew home and was seemingly okay. He was not instructed to see a neurologist upon his return to college, though I called his family physician to ask about it. Our family physician told me to drive to his college and bring him home for an immediate evaluation with a local neurologist. I did so and things were seemingly okay and his recovery was progressing slowly but normally.
After seven weeks of continued confusion, severe headaches, light sensitivity, sleeplessness, etc. he was once again evaluated by his neurologist. The news was that somewhere along the way he had developed a very small bruise and that the bruise had bled ever so slightly. His teammates were later able to pinpoint the probable occasion to the plane trip when my son suddenly gasped as if in pain, went "blank" for several seconds and then seemingly recovered with no memory of the incident.
Over the course of time my son seemed to recover but 14 months later began having petit mal seizures that lasted for three years.
Now 4 1/2 years later there are slight, but permanant personality and cognitive differences -- but that's life. He graduated in four years from a very presigious university with a 3.7 gpa and magna cum laude. He was able to go back and play soccer his senior year, wore a special helmut and was elected by coaches as an academic All-American. But, the journey has been tough and we feel very fortunate that he was hit in the face rather than on the side of the head where the story would likely have been very different.