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Penetrating Head Injuries

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Jeff Sevey

Because the head houses the brain, the organ that is essential for every movement and every action, any injury to the head or brain can be incredibly serious and could change your life forever. Penetrating head injuries are often severe and are could be life-threatening.

No one should have to endure the pain, lasting physical consequences, and financial devastation that a penetrating head injury can cause, especially if the injury occurred through no fault of your own. You have the right to take legal action on behalf of yourself or a loved one who was hurt. Don’t wait until it is too late to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one has suffered a penetrating head injury due to someone else’s negligence, the Roseville personal injury lawyers at The Sevey Law Firm can help. Contact us today by calling (916) 788-7100 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case today.

What is a Penetrating Head Injury?

Also referred to as an open head injury, a penetrating head injury occurs when a foreign object or skull fragment breaks through the skull and the outside layer of the brain. These types of injuries are typically caused by a sharp object, such as a knife or bullet, and are classified as either high velocity or low velocity depending on the details of the accident.

Typically a projectile like a bullet causes high-velocity injuries, resulting in severe debilitation, coma, and often death. Because a bullet enters the skull at such a high velocity, it causes massive wounds and even more internal damage as the bullet breaks apart. In other cases, the object passes through the brain, known as a perforating injury.

On the other hand, low velocity penetrating injuries are caused by a knife wound, fall, or another type of accident where the caverning effect is much less severe than its high-speed counterpart. In low-velocity injuries, the most common cause of damage is when a piece of the skull enters the brain.

Symptoms of a Penetrating Head Injury

The symptoms of penetrating head injuries vary depending on what type of injury it is. However, some common symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the head and ears
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizure
  • Loss of movement or bowel/bladder control
  • Coma

A penetrating head injury is usually immediately identifiable, but even if these symptoms are not present, it's vital to seek medical attention after any event that could harm your brain.

Causes of Penetrating Head Injuries

While some of the most serious penetrating head injuries involve bullets, these injuries can also be caused by other objects or accidents. In fact, victims can suffer a penetrating head injury in an automobile accident, construction accident, workplace incident, and even a sports injury. Any object that enters the skull, causing an open wound, or exits the skull, causing a perforating open head injury, can put victims at risk.

Firearms are the primary cause of death from penetrating brain injuries. Because the injuries and wounds are so severe and cause so much damage due to the high velocity of the bullet, an estimated 91 percent of victims shot in the head die. In the event of a slow-velocity bullet, the brain can still suffer serious trauma due to the projectile ricocheting back and forth inside the brain, damaging multiple areas.

How are Penetrating Head Injuries Diagnosed?

In the event of a serious, life-threatening, high-velocity injury, the victim can be so covered in blood that doctors and nurses have difficulty finding the exact location of the open wound. Because the brain lacks nerve endings, many patients who have suffered low-velocity injuries may not even be aware of the damage to their brain and head. That’s why it’s so important that victims seek medical attention as soon as possible following an injury.

After visually inspecting the injury, monitoring blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate, the doctor will move forward with tests. Diagnosing a penetrating head injury is typically done through an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI. However, an MRI is usually a last resort and only carried out if the doctor is certain there is no chance a magnetic object is lodged in the brain. This is because a magnet inside the brain will move during an MRI, causing more damage.

Treatment Options and Complications from Penetrating Head Injuries

Seeking treatment as soon as possible following a penetrating head injury is of the utmost importance and is often the difference between life and death. After performing a visual inspection of the victim’s injuries to discover how much blood has been lost and whether or not there is a depressed skull fracture, the doctor will perform tests to assess the severity of the internal damage. In most cases, treatment requires surgery to repair the skull, stop internal bleeding, and finally stitch up the wound. During surgery, the doctor will also remove any bone fragments to help reduce brain swelling.

Beyond the obvious consequences and complications of a penetrating head injury, infection is a major risk to victims, and if left untreated, could cause permanent brain damage and even death. In many cases, penetrating brain injury victims can get meningitis in the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord, requiring aggressive treatment with antibiotics and steroids. Additional complications to these types of injuries include paralysis in the extremities or face, dementia, increased risk of seizures, permanent coma, and in many cases, death. Fatalities occur in an estimated 92 percent of high-velocity injuries, with 72 percent of those dying at the scene of the incident.

How Your Injury Can Impact Your Case?

For those who survive a penetrating brain injury, a majority will require long-term medical care and extensive rehabilitation to move on with their life. This care and treatment can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime. Along with medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and physical therapy, victims may also not be able to return to work, robbing them of their ability to support themselves and their families.

Additionally, seizures, chronic head pain, loss of speech and vision, and loss of other motor or cognitive functions can lead to a lifetime of pain and suffering, as well as an elevated risk of depression or emotional trauma. A skilled personal injury attorney can assess your case, examine the details, and work to get you the financial compensation you need to pay for these lifelong expenses.

Contact a Roseville Personal Injury Lawyer

The aftermath of an accident that results in a penetrating head injury can be painful, confusing, and stressful. Learning about the details of your or your loved one's injuries and how they can impact every day of your future can leave you feeling alone and unsure of where to turn for help. By hiring a skilled and experienced injury attorney, you can recover the financial compensation you need to begin to rebuild your life. To learn more about your legal rights and options, contact the Roseville head injury lawyers at The Sevey Law Firm today at (916) 788-7100.

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