Beware: Head Injury That Doctors Think can’t Kill But Kills

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A few months ago, I went to visit an uncle who was hospitalized because of stroke – for the second time-in Quirino province. That is a place found in region 11 in northern Luzon of the Philippines.

During the visit, there are other stroke patients in the room and we exchanged many stories about problem. One thing came up as caused by stroke that seems to be not being given attention is caused by a hit on the head even by a small marble sized pebble , or hitting the head on a hard object, however, no bleeding.

Head injury is a very tricky one. While the skull maybe intact and doesn’t show any crack on X-rays, the veins and arteries are not being detected to have lesions, misleading doctors that everything is alright. Not suspecting that a few days afterwards, the stroke struck like lightning killing the victim and caught the family unaware that the incident caused blood clot or hematoma in the area hurt.

The first story I heard about this injury was when I was in the primary grade. A very healthy man, who is part of a force working to open up roads as part of the government projects to connect remote places to the town, was hit on the head by marble sized stone, died on his sleep after two days. Nobody knows why, so, an autopsy was done to see if no foul act was done to the victim, and it showed a blood clot on the arteries that supplies the brain.

Another story told that in 2001 after a man fell and hit his head on the ground was dead after a week. They concluded it was stroke.

And 2 weeks ago, a young man of 32 years old had the same case. He fell on the ground head first…everything seems to be okay but then in 2 days he won’t wake up. The family who heard his snoring said the sound was like he was in trouble, so, they tried to wake him up but didn’t respond – he was dead – before help to bring him to the hospital arrived.

As I listened to their stories, I am reminded of many more cases of the past that are the same. They were hit on the head, or they hit their head on hard object. Everything was okay until they are found dead in few days.

In fact my last employer had the same case, he fell from his bed and his head hit the drawer’s handle. He was fine and dandy, but in two months the blood slowly clotted and blocked his important veins and arteries on the head affecting his movement and speech, luckily his wife didn’t loss sense, she immediately brought him to the hospital and he was operated and saved.

The last one was my friend and co-worker. He was working in his house when a plywood placed in a corner fell and hit his head. During the night when he was preparing to go to his bed, he felt numbness on his right hand. He did not take it seriously because he had such thing on the past and it just went away. But in the morning, he can’t move his hand and his right leg felt has no feeling. His wife told him they go to the hospital. There, they waited for their turn, and then he was told his sugar must be very low. So they gave him something to rise up his sugar. Then they were sent home.

When he was out from the taxi and walked home his wife was literally almost carrying him. Luckily for him the injury must not be that very serious, because the blood was taking time to clot.

The following day he can’t move and his speech was slurring, so, they had to ask help from their neighbor who helped them to go back to the hospital. Bless him, he now able to walk normally and back to his normal though he still needs to take medicine for maintenance.

The point of these stories is to serve as a warning to us when it involves the head. Don’t take for granted whenever you or someone you know hurt their head because nothing serious, even though, nothing is noticeable at that moment. Blood clots always take time as the time in the stories show. Some immediately and some may take longer.

This is where massage can help a lot. A head part that was hit always feels painful or sensitive to touch. When you touch with your fingers and it gives sharp pain that is a warning something must be done. No pain at first does not mean you’re completely safe, better check again after an hour, and after a day. If no sensitivity is felt then there “MIGHT” be no problem. Well, it doesn’t hurt to check it once in a while for a week.

What to do?

Put a finger or two on top of the painful area, press it gently, for a second or two then release. If the area feels numb, move it slowly with the fingers in slow circular motion.

WARNING: The first touches are painful to very painful. When it’s sensitive to touch, press it slightly for ½ second -1 second. Do 5-10 repetitions, then stopped. Wait for a few minutes then repeat the procedure. The second time should be more tolerable so you can adjust how much longer you pressed.

Also, don’t for get to massage the further areas of the injury to promote better circulations on the other veins and arteries.

The technique should be done 3-5 times a day or more. Then reduce it depending on how much pain is felt. The more pain you feel means the more repetition and days to treat until there is no more pain felt in the area.

What to watch for?

From the time the accident happened, a close monitoring should be done. Asking questions for a sign of slurring speech, to how the person feels on his hands or legs. Numbness could indicate a beginning of an attack. And check for sensitivity on the spot injured.

A doctor should not be removed from our lists of first aid. It’s better to go see one and tell our worries than to be sorry later, especially, when you have doubts about how to do the first aid given here.

Cautions:

Some doctors may immediately recommend surgery. Say yes immediately, if one or more signs mentioned before is/are present, such as: Slurring speech, numbness on the arms and hands and or numbness on your leg with difficulty walking.

The hospital may not see any problem and will send you home. That’s fine, but be sure to observe the victim or yourself of any of those emergency signs. Also, continue to monitor the area of any sensitivity by “gentle pressing” as instructed above.

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