Head trauma from a crushing brain injury is typically the most damaging and life-threatening variety of traumatic brain injury. These injuries demand immediate medical treatment, and even with that treatment, functioning may be permanently impaired. It's possible to survive, and even thrive, in the face of a crushing brain injury, but the prognosis is heavily dependent upon the severity of the initial injury.
Fortunately, crushing brain injuries are the least common variety of head trauma. But because of their uncommon nature, research into best treatment practices is far less advanced than for other forms of head injuries. Additionally, crushing brain injury survivors may struggle to access skilled medical care, and may need to transfer to specialized trauma and rehabilitative facilities.
Head trauma from a crushing brain injury, as the name implies, occurs when the brain and skull are crushed—usually between two hard objects. The more forceful the crushing is, the more severe damage will be, but damage also depends on factors such as the location of the injury and overall brain health. For example, people who have vascular issues may suffer blood clots or strokes after a crushing brain injury.
A crushing brain injury causes damage to the brain, blood vessels, and skull, each of which can be life-threatening:
Any injury that causes the head to be lodged between two heavy objects can produce a crushing brain injury. Some of the most common causes include:
Head trauma from a crushing brain injury is hard to miss, since it usually involves extensive damage, may be bloody, and may even cause the head to become trapped between two objects. Any evidence that the brain has been crushed warrants immediate medical attention, even if the victim seems fine. Prompt medical intervention is the single most important determinant of long-term survival, and early treatment can significantly reduce long-term symptoms.
Some immediate effects of crushing brain injuries include:
Even with the best treatment, a crushing brain injury can prove fatal, particularly if the blow to the head is forceful enough. In the immediate aftermath of the injury, doctors will focus on stopping any bleeding, removing pressure and swelling on the brain, and addressing any secondary effects of the injury, such as blood clots or stroke. Some crushing brain injury survivors require artificial respiratory assistance to continue breathing on their own. Depending upon the location and severity of the injury, they may also need the assistance of catheters, heart rate monitors, pacemakers, and a wide array of other devices.
Ultimately, the prognosis depends on overall health, the severity of the initial injury, and quality of treatment. This is why it's so important to seek treatment at a facility that has experience with crushing brain injuries. Your doctor is the best person to ask about your prognosis, but some common effects of crushing brain injuries include:
There are no guarantees when it comes to treating a crushing brain injury, but rigid adherence to the treatment plan suggested by your doctor offers you the best chance at a speedy and full recovery. A healthy lifestyle can also work wonders, so don't shy away from asking your doctor about the role of good nutrition, regular exercise, stress management, and other health choices. Long-term treatment options may include: