A closed head injury is trauma to the head that causes the skull and brain to knock or shake. Internal damage can occur to the:
This damage can cause swelling or pressure on the brain. The injury can be throughout the brain and skull; or it can be in one region.
Often times, the head injury is minor. However, it can serious and life threatening. It requires care from a doctor.
Closed head injuries are caused by trauma to the head. This is often due to:
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These factors increase your chance of developing a closed head injury:
Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors.
Symptoms can appear right away or the days and weeks following the injury.
If you have any of these symptoms. do not assume it is due to closed head injury. These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. Tell your doctor if you have any of these:
Be sure you know which symptoms your doctor needs to know about right away. If you have been evaluated for a closed head injury and your symptoms are getting worse, get medical help right away.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a neurologist for special testing.
Tests may include:
Imaging studies are not routinely done in children with minor head injuries. Your child may be observed to determine if imaging studies are needed.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment will depend on:
Treatment options include the following:
For minor injury with little or no symptoms, your doctor may advise that you watch for symptoms to develop in the days and weeks that follow.
If you have a concussion, a responsible adult will need to observe you. You may also need to limit drug and alcohol use.
You may need more testing done. These tests assess how your brain functions. The results can help your doctor determine:
Your doctor may prescribe medicine to:
This usually involves making “burr holes” in the scalp and skull and draining the clotting blood. Sometimes a section of the skull is removed to relieve pressure. This is called a craniotomy.
To help reduce your chances of getting a closed head injury, take the following steps:
American Academy of Neurology
Brain Injury Association of America
The Brain Injury Association of Canada
Ontario Brain Injury Association
American Academy of Pediatrics. The management of minor closed head injuries in children. Pediatrics. 1999;104:1407-1415.
Closed head injury. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 29, 2009. Accessed May 19, 2009.
10/5/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Parikh SN, Wilson L. Hazardous use of car seats outside the car in the United States, 2003-2007. Pediatrics. 2010;126(2):352-357.
4/1/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Choosing wisely. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 26, 2014. Accessed April 1, 2014.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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