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.
Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
There is definately a great deal to find out about this topic. I like all the points you have made.
I want to to thank you for this good read!! I absolutely loved every little bit of it. I have you book-marked to look at new stuff you postÖ
Having read this I believed it was really informative. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this content together. I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!
I intended to send you a very small observation to say thanks the moment again on the awesome thoughts you've featured in this article. It has been so shockingly generous with you to provide publicly what many individuals would've sold for an electronic book to end up making some bucks for themselves, particularly considering the fact that you could have tried it if you ever desired. The thoughts likewise served to become a fantastic way to know that other people have the identical zeal the same as mine to see a good deal more when considering this condition. I'm certain there are millions of more pleasant times in the future for individuals that read through your website.
certainly like your web site however you need to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very troublesome to inform the truth then again I¡¦ll certainly come again again.
When I originally commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. There has to be an easy method you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!
I truly love your site.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you create this site yourself? Please reply back as Iím planning to create my very own blog and would love to find out where you got this from or what the theme is named. Appreciate it!
As I web-site possessor I believe the content matter here is rattling fantastic , appreciate it for your hard work. You should keep it up forever! Best of luck.
May I simply just say what a comfort to find someone who genuinely knows what they are discussing on the net. You certainly realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people should look at this and understand this side of your story. I can't believe you are not more popular given that you surely possess the gift.
After checking out a few of the articles on your web site, I really like your way of writing a blog. I bookmarked it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Take a look at my web site as well and let me know how you feel.
I could not resist commenting. Well written!
Spot on with this write-up, I actually believe this web site needs a great deal more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read more, thanks for the information!
Having read this I believed it was very enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!
Excellent site you've got here.. Itís difficult to find excellent writing like yours these days. I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!
There is certainly a lot to learn about this subject. I like all the points you have made.
There's certainly a great deal to find out about this subject. I really like all of the points you've made.
Hi! I simply would like to give you a huge thumbs up for the excellent info you have got here on this post. I will be coming back to your web site for more soon.
This is the right blog for everyone who really wants to understand this topic. You realize a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really would want toÖHaHa). You certainly put a brand new spin on a subject that has been discussed for ages. Excellent stuff, just great!
Excellent blog post. I absolutely love this site. Keep writing!
Hi mates, how is all, and what you desire to say
concerning this post, in my view its truly amazing in favor of me.
That is a great tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate infoÖ Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!
Can I just say what a comfort to discover a person that truly knows what they are discussing over the internet. You certainly know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised that you are not more popular since you surely possess the gift.
Aw, this was a really nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to produce a great articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a whole lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.
Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to produce a good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I procrastinate a lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.
Hello there! This post could not be written any better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I will send this post to him. Pretty sure he will have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!
May I simply just say what a comfort to find a person that genuinely knows
what they are talking about over the internet. You certainly know how to bring an issue to
light and make it important. More people should read this and understand this side of the story.
I was surprised you're not more popular given that you most certainly have the
Hi, I do believe this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit yet again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide other people.