Head injuries: separating the serious from the superficial

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - When collisions happen they often do where it matters most, your head, but it's what is on the inside that makes the difference.

"The brain is kind of like jello," explained Dr. Jon Ledlie, a neurosurgeon at East Texas Medical Center. He said that when it comes to head injuries, the "x" factor is momentum.

"The speed at which the fall occurs and the quickness of the stoppage that occurs is what transfers to the brain," said Ledlie.

For example, when moving at a slow speed, a sudden stop is pretty safe, but add more momentum and your result is your brain slamming forward pulling away from the back or side of your skull.

"When the brain comes back against the other surface of the brain you can get bruising, the doctors explained. "As it falls away, it pulls against veins that drain the brain, and the blood flow goes back to the heart. It'll pull and sometimes break those blood vessels."

Broken, the vessels push blood between your brain and skull, resulting in pressure.

"As the pressure gets larger and larger, like blowing a balloon up bigger and bigger, the balloon expands, expands [and] expands, but finally, it'll rupture because it won't handle the pressure," he explained.

To ease a lot of pressure off you when it comes to safety, Ledlie says most head injuries can be avoided with one simple piece of equipment.

"Just like a motorcycle wreck, just like a bicycle wreck, helmets do save and there's no question about that," he said.

Ledlie adds, the most dangerous head trauma happens with direct blows to the head. Any loss of consciousness, nausea or drowsiness after a head injury especially to young children should be treated immediately by an ER physician.