A head injury should never be taken lightly because head trauma could cause permanent brain damage. To understand what happens during a head injury, it is essential to review the anatomy of this complex organ called the human brain.
The brain is one of the largest organs in the human body enclosed by the cranium (skull) which protects the brain. It is made up of billions of nerves that communicate with other cells. This process is called synapses. Surrounding the brain are layers of tissues called meninges (the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord).
The brain is divided into four lobes; each serves a vital role in the human development:
Frontal lobe: Responsible for problem-solving and judgment and motor functions.
Parietal lobe: Integrates sensory information to other area of the brain.
Temporal lobe: Involves with memory, hearing, speech, and emotional response.
Occipital lobe: Control brain’s visual processing and color recognition.
Who is at risk of a head injury?
Anyone is subject to a head injury during his/her lifetime; no one is exempt. A head injury could result from an accidental fall, automobile accident, or any sentinel event; however, individuals who participate in contact sports such as, football, basket ball, kick boxing etc. maybe at a greater risk of a head injury. If we explore by gender, who is more likely to sustain a head injury? The DANA Guide to Brain Health published March, 2007, by Patricio C. Gargolla and Adam C. Lipson, reported men are three-four times more often than women to be affected of a head injury. The report revealed brain injuries are one of the leading cause of death and disability in the industrialized world, and in the United States, more than 50,000 people die every year as a result of traumatic brain injury.
The most common head injury is concussion sometimes referred to as mild traumatic brain injury or mild head injury.
What is a concussion?
Concussion is when the brain moves violently within the skull. The brain cells fire at once. Concussions are classified into five grades based on the symptoms an individual displays after an injury.
Grade I: involves confusion, “seeing stars, slurred speech, saying something that does not make sense”. Grade I is considered the mildest grade.
Grade II: Involves anterograde amnesia (failure to recall recent past).Lasts less than five minutes as well as confusion
Grade III: Involves retrograde amnesia (unable to recall events that occurred before onset of the amnesia) and unconsciousness less than five minutes.
Grade IV: Symptoms same as all of the above symptoms as well as unconsciousness that lasts between 5-10 minutes.
Grade V: Symptoms same as Grade IV with unconsciousness, but lasting longer than 10 minutes.
In summary, anyone who sustains a head injury regardless of classification should seek immediate medical attention. According to The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) guidelines, permanent brain injury can occur with either Grade II or III concussion. Also, the guidelines make clear subtle brain injury can have permanent consequences if the acute symptoms of the concussion continue for more than 15 minutes. If you witness an individual who sustained a head injury, phone 911 immediately. It. is important to ensure the victim has a clear airway and remains in a straight alignment. Refrain from moving the individual, and do not prop the head up because this could cause permanent damage to the spinal cord. Try to keep the victim calm by assuring the iinjured person you will remain until trained medical staff arrives.
WebMD February 25, 2011