Health Alert: Head Trauma

POSTED: Thursday, March 19, 2009 - 6:55pm

UPDATED: Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 11:58pm

Traumatic brain injuries have come into the spotlight after the tragic death of actress Natasha Richardson. But as our Lauren Unger found out, some simple steps could help prevent many of the injuries doctors see.

It’s a heartbreaking case, actress Natasha Richardson killed by a traumatic brain injury. Her death comes just days after a seemingly small skiing accident where Richardson bumped her head, eventually causing a blood clot in the brain. Neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Soleau says, “The patient thought everything was fine and it turned out not to be fine, hindsight, can be 20/20.”

At the Neuromedical Center in Baton Rouge they see patients everyday with trauma to the brain. For many, the consequences of their injuries can be staggering, from mobility and speech problems to devastating memory and personality changes. Neuropsychologist Dr. John Bolter says, “Many of them end up divorced, they lose their families, they can’t find any possible employment, they’re disabled, and they struggle with their lives.” Leading to intensive rehabilitation, but more disconcerting, doctors say many of the injuries could be avoided. “Wear your seatbelt, wear your seatbelt, wear your seatbelt, by far the most traumatic brain injuries we see are from car accidents.”

Not only transportation, doctors say protection is important at play as well, especially when it comes to your kids. Dr. Jyotis Pham says, “We should be making sure our children are wearing helmets when they ride bicycles, if you ride motorcycles you should be wearing a helmet as well.” A few ounces of protection for one of your most important assets.

Doctors say you should head to the hospital any time you black out from head trauma and also if you see signs like nausea, head pain, sleepiness, or problems moving one side of your body.