An open head injury, which is also known as penetrating head injury, occurs when the dura matter or the outer layer of the head is punctured.
The brain controls all body functions including your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Any damage to the brain means an impairment of body functions. In extreme cases, it can cause coma or death.
The skull is the main protection of brain, a very fragile organ. The hard skull encapsulates it to withstand any incredible force. However, in cases of severe force to the head, fractures can happen that can permanently damage the brain and result to brain injury.
Gunshot, strong force, and fractures can injure the skull. It can damage the brain tissue or the membranes surrounding it.
Open Head Injury
Open head injuries are considered serious and traumatic. They require medical help immediately. Due to the open wound, patients can suffer from infection and contamination.
Based on research in the U.S. open head injuries are one of the main concerns in brain injury. Fortunately, it has slowly declined since 1990’s. Today 40% of all traumatic brain injury cases still involve firearms in the U.S.
An open head injury can happen in sports accidents, workplace accidents, car crashes, knife wounds or gunshot that can cause skull fracture.
Even objects like a screwdriver can pierce the skull and cause brain injury.
When an object exits in another location not from where it entered, this is called perforating open head injury. An example of this is a gunshot wound.
There are different types of open head injuries. This depends on the kind of skull fracture.
69% of all open head injury is crack in the skull or linear fracture. In this type of fracture there is no penetration on the brain tissue. This is considered a minor fracture and requires only a little treatment. Even though that’s the case, any type of head injury should be checked by a physician or a specialist. It is crucial that patient must receive immediate medical attention.
Some of the complications of linear fracture includes damages in the blood vessel and cerebrospinal fluid leakage which cushion the brain and the spinal column. Thus it can cause grave risk and serious damage to the brain.
Depressed Skull Fracture
It is caused by a blunt object and a severe blow to head. This type of fracture compresses the skull bone fragments to the brain tissue thus causing severe damage to the brain.
Basilar & Diastatic Skull Fracture
This type of fracture is common in infants and newborns when the suture lines are widened instead of being fused together.
In severe but rare cases, a patient can sustain breaks on the base of the skull. Fractures in the lower part of the skull can cause tears in the membranes that holds the brain. This can lead to a leakage of the cerebrospinal fluid from the nose and ears.
Complications of An Open Head Injury
The most common complication of an open head injury is infection because the brain is exposed to the outside environment. Infection in the brain can cause a permanent damage or even death.
Meningitis is the most common type of brain infection. It can be caused by a bacteria or a virus.
Other complications include seizures, paralysis, death, dementia or coma.
Treating open head injuries may vary depending on the extent of the damage in the brain.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan and intracranial pressure monitor (ICP) are used to detect the complications and injuries that are not visible to the naked eye. These help determine whether the patient needs rehabilitation or surgery.
A surgeon may remove bone fragments to lessen the swelling. Sometimes they use synthetic skull pieces to provide protection to the fragile tissues of the brain.
This is the most crucial component in a patient’s recovery from a traumatic brain injury. Most patients require long term rehabilitation to bring back vital neurological functions including their cognitive skills.
Rehabilitation involves the professional care of a psychiatrist who evaluates the extent of rehabilitation. He creates a rehabilitation plan for the patient.
Specifically, a neuropsychologist is a doctor who specializes in the structure of the brain and its functions. He mainly focuses on the changes in the patient’s thinking and behavior.
A physical therapist helps the patient to re-establish simple functions and activities of daily living including the patient’s mobility.
The rehabilitation process doesn’t only focus on helping the patient to gain back his functions. It also helps the families to cope with the incident.
Rehabilitation time doesn’t entirely depend on the case of the patient. It also depends on the eagerness of the patient and the emotional, psychological, and financial support coming from the patients’ family and friends. These are important factors in the recovery process and speedy recovery of the patient.