Dangerous Injuries to the Head

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  • 0:05 Trauma to the Head
  • 0:54 Blunt Trauma
  • 2:50 Penetrating and…
  • 3:35 Craniofacial Trauma
  • 5:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will underscore the different types of traumas that can occur to your head. We will go over blunt, penetrating, perforating, and craniofacial trauma, as well as some of their unique components.

Trauma to the Head

Imagine if you hit your face against the desk as you dozed off studying for a test. You'd experience maybe a little bit of pain but not much else. At the very least, you can use that as an excuse for a brain freeze during the test itself.

However, if you got punched really hard in the face, then you'll not only be in a lot of pain but will also have a bunch of red fluid, blood, coming out of your head.

Now, if you got into a really serious accident or fell off a high ledge and hit your face and head against a hard surface, you'll not only be hurting and bleeding, you'll also be discharging some clear fluid out of your body. Oh, and that clear fluid won't be tears of pain rolling down your face, as this lesson will point out in a little bit.

Blunt Trauma

There are many different types of injuries your face and head may sustain. These range from burns and lacerations to punches and slaps.

One of the most well-known types of injuries that can affect your head is known as blunt trauma. This is when an event resulting in physical contact results in injury to the body. You can surely imagine some of these physical impacts that may affect the face. They range from punches to the eye and nose to hitting the head when falling on the icy pavement or in a car accident.

Any type of trauma, including blunt trauma, may result in something known as a hematoma in the area of the impact. A hematoma is a collection of blood pooling in body tissues and outside of blood vessels. If you've ever gotten a really nasty punch to the eye and developed a red pocket of blood underneath your eye that later turned purple, green, and yellow, that's a hematoma.

The reason a hematoma develops is quite easy to understand. Your blood vessels aren't made of steel. If something really forceful hits your face, the blood vessels will simply split apart. Imagine breaking apart a water hose right down the middle. The water will just pool onto the surrounding pavement since it can't go into the now disconnected other half of the hose. The same thing happens in a hematoma.

While a hematoma may develop superficially, that is to say, close to the surface of the body, it may also occur deep down inside the body. Blunt trauma may not even pierce the skin in some cases but may damage internal organs. If you've ever been punched in the gut, you'll know what I mean. The punch likely didn't cause your skin to break apart but it sure as heck caused your intestines and stomach to hurt quite a bit.

Penetrating and Perforating Trauma

Another type of trauma that may occur in the body, including the head, which will definitely pierce the skin and cause internal damage, is known as a penetrating trauma. This is a type of injury whereupon something pierces the skin and enters the body. Famous examples of this type of trauma include stab wounds by something like a knife.

A penetrating trauma should not be confused with a perforating trauma. This is a type of trauma where something enters the body through one place and exits out the body through another. A really well-known example of this is a bullet wound, where the bullet enters in one spot and usually leaves with a much larger exit wound in another spot in the body.

Craniofacial Trauma

While blunt, penetrating, and perforating traumas most definitely affect the head, especially during violent acts, such as stabbings, or during car accidents, or when a person's head hits the pavement during a fall, there is one specific type of trauma that is unique to the head. This is called a craniofacial trauma. This is a more technical term for a head injury.

A head injury can be any of the ones we described above but may have some unique components involved that are of a critical nature, since the head houses the most important organ in your body, the brain.

Head injuries can cause hematomas to develop within the skull. These hematomas can raise the intracranial pressure, or pressure within the skull, which can lead to headaches, seizures, and death. Other times, a head injury may result in a cerebral contusion, or a bruise to the brain tissue.

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