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Open Penetrating Injury

healthy brain sketch Brain injuries can occur from a variety of different accidents.  These accidents can vary in severity and subsequently create different injuries.  An open or penetrating brain injury is an injury where the dura mater or the outer layer of the brain is pierced, and subsequently left open for a short or long period of time.  While the exact details of this penetration differ between accidents, there are some guidelines that create these different types of brain injuries. This article looks to outline details of such injuries, understand the signs of an open brain injury, typical medical procedure, and highlight the resources for the loved ones of those injured.  While not every brain injury has a positive outcome, the sooner you seek medical advice, the better the chances are of surviving such an injury.

Details of Open Brain Injuries

Generally, Open Brain injuries occur from certain accidents that directly contribute to bleeding in the brain.  Many times this involves contact with another object that penetrates the brain. As far as violent crimes go, open brain injuries most commonly result from a knife or gunshot wounds. If an object enters the brain but has a different point of injury this is called a perforating open head injury.  Perforating injuries many times are harder to treat, trace, and recover from because the damage done by these injuries is usually higher.  A medical journal cited that most open brain injuries are the cause of a sharp object versus a dull object. The use of the term “open” brain injury comes from the fact that the object, which penetrated the skull, is still inside the skull and the skull is exposed or open.

Signs of an Open Brain Injury

There are several obvious and not so obvious cues behind an open brain injury.  Some symptoms of this particular injury can be seen moments or hours after the incident and some won’t become apparent until after a few days.  The hardest part of this injury is the fact that many times the injury i.e. the bleeding of the brain is occurring inside the skull.  Important signs to watch for follow closely along the lines of a concussion. These symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Confusion
  • Severe sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Aggravating headaches
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss right after or days after the accident
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Flashing lights

Many times, open brain injuries are easy to spot and see due to the fact they are still open.  However, there are cases when such injuries have gone unnoticed.

Medical Procedures for Open Brain Injuries

Depending on the severity of the brain injury, doctors will make the best decision possible.  Typically, doctors will follow the same procedures to stabilize their patient and give them optimal care.  First, the doctors will make sure the patient is getting enough air.  This will involve clearing the airways of the patient if they are blocked.  Secondly, the doctors will start to search for the penetration area.  They will meticulously search the scalp so they do not miss anything.  Sometimes it is hard to discover what entered where and which part of the head is bleeding due to the large amount of blood that usually occurs when such an injury happens. Once they are aware of the head injury they will try to identify what specific object has penetrated the skull.  Since this injury is usually typical with severe violence most trauma doctors have seen the different objects that create open brain injuries.  Depending on the object they will make a specific and educated decision.  After this, doctors will start to test other organs to make sure the brain is regulating them properly.  At this point they will send their patient to neuroimaging so they can determine if surgery needs to be performed immediately or in the near future.

Resources for Loved Ones

Christensen & Hymas sends its deepest condolences to those who are close to someone with a traumatic brain injury.  In this time period there will probably be numerous emotions on the surface of your life.  Many times the more information you have will help contribute to this complex situation and provide you with the comfort or answers you need.  Below are a few resources to help you navigate this trying time: The Brain Injury Association of America:  This website was developed to help families and individuals deal with the consequences of a brain injury. Includes government and medical advocacy. Brain Injury Alliance Utah:  Specifically catered to Utah residents this resources documents how to deal with the injury and the many questions you could have.  Includes info on community activities for Brain injuries. If you or a loved one has received an open brain injury due to someone else’s negligence, please do not hesitate to contact us at Christensen & Hymas for a free confidential consultation.  We understand these situations are difficult and we would like to support you in any way possible.  Our number is 801.506.0800.

Image courtesy of holdentrils and Pixabay. The image is free for commercial use.


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