This type of traumatic injury occurs when an object penetrates the skull and damages the brain. One part of the brain may be damaged. Damage can also occur to a larger area of the brain. This is a serious, life-threatening injury. It requires emergency medical care.
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Penetrating brain injuries may be caused by any object or external force, such as:
Risk factors include:
A penetrating brain injury is very serious and can lead to death. Gunshot wounds to the head are often fatal. The symptoms, though, vary depending on what caused the injury and how severe it is. Symptoms may include:
Because of the severity of this kind of injury, the doctor will evaluate the person as quickly as possible in the emergency room. This may include:
Depending on the person’s condition, the following tests may be done:
The treatment plan depends on a number of factors, including the:
The hospital staff will first attempt to stabilize life. If there is bleeding, steps will be taken to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible. This may include doing emergency surgery. To help the person breathe, a tube may be placed down the throat and into the lungs. Also, fluids and blood will be given to keep the blood pressure stable.
Depending on the injury, a neurosurgeon (a doctor that specializes in brain and spinal cord surgery) may need to:
The doctor may also place monitoring devices in the brain to check the:
Seizures may occur after a traumatic brain injury. Because of this, the doctor may give anti-seizure medicines. Strong pain relieving medicines, like opioids, may be given through a vein in the arm.
After the condition has improved, the doctors will create a rehabilitation program that may include working with:
The goal is to help the person regain as much functioning as possible.
Here are ways to prevent this type of trauma to your brain:
You can also prevent brain injuries by getting help if you are in a violent environment.
American Academy of Neurology
Brain Injury Association of America
The Brain Injury Association of Canada
Ontario Brain Injury Association
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Last reviewed June 2013 by Igor Puzanov, MD
Last Updated: 6/20/2013