Head trauma is a common reason for an emergency room visit. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) accounts for more than 1 in 6 injury-related hospital admissions each year, and a large number of people who suffer head injuries are children.
Head trauma can be either closed or open (penetrating). A closed head trauma means you received a hard blow to the head from striking an object, but the object did not break the skull. An open, or penetrating, head trauma means you were hit with an object that broke the skull and entered the brain. This is more likely to happen when you move at high speed, such as going through the windshield in a car accident. It can also happen from a gunshot to the head.
There are multiple types of head trauma, including scalp wounds, skull fractures, and concussions, in which the brain is shaken (the most common type of traumatic brain injury). Head trauma may cause bleeding in the brain tissue or in the layers that surround the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage, subdural hematoma, epidural hematoma). Given its prevalence, as well as the morbidity, all clinicians should understand the basic principles of evaluation and management in patients with head trauma.