Melissa Rycroft, of Bachelor (semi) fame was rushed to the hospital yesterday after suffering a head injury while rehearsing for Dancing With The Stars. She’s not the only celebrity to recently hurt her head; earlier this year, both Halle Berry and Kristin Chenoweth experienced head injuries on film sets (Kristin’s 5 1/2 inch skull fracture was serious enough to cause her to leave her show, The Good Wife, and she’s also had trouble with her speech and memory). About two million head injuries occur each year in the United States. Do you know the signs and symptoms of head injury?
Melissa has since been released from the hospital, so it sounds like she’s going to be ok. Still head injuries can be very serious, and their symptoms can sometimes show up well after the actual impact has occurred. Remember in 2009, when Natasha Richardson sadly passed away after hitting her head while skiing? She experienced an epidural hematoma, a type of brain bleed, but was initially fine, even joking about the fall.
A head injury is any type of injury that impacts the brain, skull or scalp. Head injuries can occur through all sorts of different activities, including sports, car accidents, or falls. There are two main categories of head injuries: closed and open. Closed is when someone receives an injury to the head but it doesn’t break or penetrate the skull, and open is when an injury sustained includes the breaking (or fracturing) of the skull. The most common head injury is a concussion.
If yourself or someone you know receives a blow or impact to their head, there are important signs and symptoms to watch for to make sure the injury doesn’t get worse.
Symptoms of a concussion include:
- memory loss
- seeing flashing lights
- vomiting and nausea
Concussions can range in seriousness; many are mild and can be treated with rest, pain medication and ice packs. But anyone who has suffered (or might be suffering from) a concussion should see a doctor.
More serious symptoms associated with concussions and other head injuries include:
- changes in speech (slurred speech)
- fluid leakage from the ears or nose
- double vision or blurred vision
- loss of coordination
- stiffness in the neck
- dilation of pupils or eyes
- weakness or numbness in extremities
- unusual behavior: if the person is usually calm but seems combative, this might be a cause for alarm
Any of these signs can show up directly after a head injury, as well as hours, days or even weeks later, so it’s vitally important that head injuries are taken seriously. It’s always best to consult a medical professional, either by calling 911 or (depending on the condition of the person) going to the emergency room or doctor’s office. People who have suffered a head injury, no matter how serious, should not drink alcohol for up to 48 hours after the injury.