Neurosurgeons warn of unnoticed head trauma

Neurosurgeons warn of unnoticed head trauma
Indirect trauma that jostles the brain may lead to chronic SDH. Photo: Thinkstock
With symptoms similar to dementia, Parkinson’s disease, internal head bleeding caused even without obvious knocks is increasing
Published: 4:16 AM, April 8, 2015
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NEW YORK — You don’t have to hit your head to develop an insidious bleed between the soft covering of your brain and the brain itself that can threaten your health or life.

The condition, called chronic subdural haematoma (SDH), is becoming increasingly common as the city’s population ages, prompting New York University Langone Medical Center neurosurgeon, Dr Uzma Samadani, to urge her colleagues to gear up for a growing number of cases likely to require neurological intervention.


Head trauma from a fall or other accident remains an important cause of the disorder, though in one-third to half of the cases, patients cannot recall an injury that might account for it.

In many instances, the trauma was so trivial it was forgotten, like walking into an open cupboard door or hitting one’s head getting in or out of a car.

Indirect trauma that jostles the brain is more common. About half of patients who report having fallen did so without hitting their heads.

Mr James Reilly, 68, is a case in point. In early January, Mr Reilly, who lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, said he fell out of bed while dreaming, and broke a few ribs. But he didn’t hit his head and seemed otherwise fine.

However, two months later, he developed difficulty speaking and using a computer. When his doctor sent him for a CT scan of his brain , itrevealed a chronic SDH.

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