Penetrating brain injury is when an object enters the skull and harms the brain. It can hurt a small or large part of the brain. It is a threat to life and needs emergency care.
Damage to the brain may be in one area or a larger region.
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The injury may be from any object or outside force, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
The problems a person may have depend on what caused the injury and how severe it is. Some problems may be:
The doctor will examine your injury in the emergency room. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. Life-saving treatment may be given at this time.
When the person is stable, images may be taken to look for damage in the brain and skull. This can be done with:
Treatment depends on:
Initial treatment involves lifesaving measures, such as stopping bleeding and providing help with breathing.
Surgery may be done to:
Medicine may be given to manage symptoms. Examples are:
Recovery will include rehabilitation, such as physical and occupational therapy.
Most penetrating brain injuries are due to accidents that cannot be prevented.
Healthy bones and muscles may help prevent injuries from falls. This may be done through diet and exercise.
American Academy of Neurology
Brain Injury Association of America
Brain Injury Canada
Ontario Brain Injury Association
Barth J, Hillary F. Closed and penetrating head injuries. Saint Joseph’s University website. Available at: http://schatz.sju.edu/neuro/patho/pathophysiology.html. Accessed October 2, 2020.
Gunshot wound head trauma. American Association of Neurological Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aans.org/en/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Gunshot%20Wound%20Head%20Trauma.aspx. October 2, 2020.
Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/moderate-to-severe-traumatic-brain-injury. Accessed October 2, 2020.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Head injury: assessment and early management. NICE 2017 Jun:CG176.
Traumatic brain injury and concussion. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury. Accessed October 2, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Rimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 5/21/2021