As anyone may imagine, the immediate aftermath of a traumatic brain injury is bound to be a confusing, hectic and emotional time for those who suffer such an incident as well as anyone who cares deeply about the patient in question.
Making matters worse, the medical community may only add to one’s frustration, as they employ high-level terminology to break down the details of your condition. For this reason, it may be worthwhile to educate yourself about the types of brain injuries that may result from severe trauma.
Today, however, let’s look a bit closer at a specific example, namely contusions.
What is a Contusion?
Quite simply, a contusion is a bruise resulting from localized trauma. This often causes bleeding on the brain. However, due to the term’s similarity to concussion, these two distinct types of brain injuries are often confused. While a concussion is largely considered an example of widespread brain trauma, a contusion is far more specific in nature.
It is possible for a concussion to directly cause a brain contusion, but that’s not necessarily the case, as shaking and many other types of brain injuries can be to blame for a concussion.
The easiest way to crystallize the concept of a contusion is to simply view it as comparable to the bruise you may sustain on other parts of your body. As such, it ranges wildly from a minor condition to one that has life-threatening effects.
What Causes a Contusion?
Because a contusion is analogous to a bruise, any blunt trauma can result in this particular kind of damage. What matters is whether the action has enough force to actually inflict enough harm into a localized area of muscle to manifest itself in such a way.
Oftentimes, this results from sports-related injuries but may also be attributed to a slip and fall, car accident or any other event involving a significant impact to the head. Due to the wide range of incidents that may cause a contusion, the condition can only truly be prevented by using protective headgear when applicable and being more aware of your surroundings. Such vigilance might just prevent disaster one day.
Symptoms of a Contusion
Just like any other bruise, a contusion is perhaps most easily identifiable by swelling and pain. Yet, the existence of a contusion in the brain offers its own set of challenges, since the damage likely won’t be visible on the surface of the skin. If blood vessels were torn in the impact, you may notice a bluish discoloration or the emergence of a lump over the site of injury, known as a hematoma.
These subdural hematomas can be particularly serious, and if you notice anything of this nature, be sure to seek medical attention immediately. Swelling and bleeding beneath the skin such as this can have deadly consequences, especially in an area as sensitive as the brain. Anytime you sustain a head injury, it’s always wise to get it checked out to determine the possibility of a contusion or something worse.
How is a Contusion Diagnosed?
The first thing a doctor will do to evaluate a patient with a suspected contusion is to verify the existence -- or lack thereof -- of common symptoms (see above). A loss of consciousness may also be a red flag about the existence of a contusion or similar effects. After running through which of the possible symptoms the patient is exhibiting, the doctor will order testing to take a more detailed look at the site of injury.
Most commonly, this will involve a computerized tomography scan -- better known as a CAT scan -- or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to explore the full scope of the damage done to the area. Signs of swelling and/or bruising will then confirm the existence of a contusion or reveal the real culprit behind the patient’s symptoms.
Treatment for Contusions
While some patients may opt to wait it out when symptoms of a contusion arrive, this couldn’t be further from the right course of action. Untreated damage to the brain -- even in the case of a condition as seemingly minor as a contusion -- could result in irreparable, long-term damage that may affect motor skills, concentration, and other functioning over time.
Of course, the course of treatment will largely hinge on how severe the contusion actually is. Surgery is a possible solution for some patients to reduce swelling and contain the damage, but antibiotics may suffice, again depending on the intensity of the impact involved. Regardless, prompt care is essential to limit the effects of a contusion and/or maximize the chances of a full recovery.
While a contusion may not be the most severe consequence of trauma to the brain, this is merely one of many conditions that may result from a tragic accident. It’s imperative that you are ready to act whenever such an incident does occur, since how quickly you start rehabilitation has a proven correlation with recovery.
A quality brain injury lawyer will be able to guide you in securing the health care you need as well prove instrumental in pursuing the financial relief to make effective treatment possible. If you or someone you care about has suffered a brain or spinal cord injury in a recent accident, reach out today to determine if you may have cause for legal action.