Often the most serious injuries are hidden to the eye. Intracranial hematomas are a dangerous and potentially deadly category of brain injuries that often stem from a blow to the head, such as from a car accident, motorcycle crash, balcony fall, or even an assault. These injuries can be a silent killer; in a deadly paradox, immediate treatment is essential but symptoms are often vague or slow to develop. As a Panama City brain injury lawyer, Wes Pittman has experience representing clients whose lives have been altered by these injuries and families who have had loved ones stolen away by this quiet killer.
It has been more than five years, but many will still recall the stunning death of Natasha Richardson. As ABC News reported, Richardson fell while skiing and opted not to see a doctor, signing a waiver and even joking about the fall. An hour or so later, she wasn't feeling well and an ambulance was called. Her health declined rapidly and, after being kept on life-support until family could visit, 45 year-old Richardson died. Confirming the diagnosis from treating doctors, the medical examiner said the cause of death was "epidural hematoma due to a blunt impact to the head."
The Mayo Clinic hosts a series of webpages focused on intracranial hematomas, a category that includes subdural, epidural, and intraparenchymal hematomas. Intracranial hematomas occur when a ruptured blood vessel causes blood to collect in the brain, or between the brain and skull, compressing the brain tissue. The subcategories are based on the precise location of the bleed.
Intracranial hematomas are usually the result of a head injury. Often a patient appears fine in the immediate aftermath of the injury ("the lucid interval"), a dangerous situation given that timely treatment is critical. Symptoms, which may appear immediately or may develop over the following weeks, include: Headache that worsens over time; Dizziness; Drowsiness; Confusion; Vomiting; Increased blood pressure; Slurred speech; and Uneven pupils.
Over time, seizures and loss of consciousness can occur. It is often someone else who notices a change that the patient misses, especially since memory loss is another symptom. Death is a very real danger if a hematoma goes untreated and continues to grow.
People who suffer a blow to the head and experience any of the foregoing symptoms should seek medical care immediately. Imaging tests are typically used to diagnose a hematoma and treatment frequently includes surgery to drain/remove the blood. After surgery many patients face a high risk of seizures and may require anticonvulsant therapy.
Long-term post-op consequences can also include memory/attention deficits, anxiety, sleep issues, and headaches. Per the Mayo Clinic, "[r]ecovery after an intracranial hematoma can be prolonged and may be incomplete." Long-term occupational and/or physical therapy may be recommended.
Head injuries are serious and a blow to the head should not be easily dismissed. Prompt treatment is crucial and can be life-saving. Medical care always comes first, but when the injury is the result of someone else's negligence (ex. a car accident or slip and fall) or wrongful acts (ex. an assault) legal counsel should be called as soon as possible.
Patients and families need an experienced lawyer on their team. When these injuries occur in the Florida Panhandle region, The Pittman Firm is proud to serve as a Northwest Florida brain injury law firm. Attorney Pittman understands these complex injuries and will fight for compensation and justice.
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