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Traditional Treatment

When someone sustains a head injury from a fall, vehicle crash, bullet wound, or other cause, they should be taken to a hospital emergency room immediately. Whether or not they've lost consciousness, they may still have suffered a concussion and the sooner they see a medical professional the better. In the emergency room the patient's vital body functions will be closely monitored so staff can respond to potential life-threatening changes immediately. Since regular X-rays can't reveal the brain, a CT scan may be ordered to detect hematomas, contusions, and skull fractures.

A Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) assessment is routinely made during an initial examination to determine the severity of the injury. This assessment is based on eye opening, and the verbal and motor responses of the person. The higher the score the less severe the injury is judged to be, while the lowest total score (3) indicates that the damage will likely be fatal.

After the patient is assessed, medication may be given intravenously to prevent life-threatening ischemic strokes and seizures. If the skull has been penetrated or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is leaking from the ears and nose, antibiotics are used to fight off infection. And of course, drugs will be administered to reduce pain. Should emergency surgery be required the trauma surgeon will probably call in a neurosurgeon.

After the patient is stabilized, he or she'll be transferred to a special trauma care unit where nurses trained in critical care will continue to monitor their condition. The nurses will stay in constant touch with the physicians on the case and also keep the family informed about the person's treatment. The average hospital stay for a mild TBI is around nine days.After a patient is released, they usually undergo rehabilitation either in a rehabilitation center or as an out-patient. Severe trauma patients will probably be hospitalized for considerably longer.

Merln Hurd PhD; BCN, QEEGT

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