Subdural hematomas (SDHs) are one of the many types of traumatic brain injuries caused by events such as car wrecks, assaults, or falls in a nursing home. Although the injury may not be visible at first, it can have severe effects on the injured person. Therefore, as our South Carolina personal injury lawyer emphasizes, it’s critical to know the signs and symptoms of an SDH so you can seek immediate medical treatment if they begin to appear.

Our firm helps clients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, like subdural hematomas, due to another person’s reckless actions. Below we’ve answered common questions clients have about SDHs. 

1. What is a subdural hematoma (SDH)?

A subdural hematoma is a collection of blood on the surface of the brain. The bleeding takes place in the tissues surrounding the brain beneath the outermost protective layer of tissue, known as the dura hence the name subdural. Most often, the blood is leaking from a blood vessel that’s been broken due to a head injury. The pressure caused by the buildup of blood can result in damaged brain tissue and can lead to loss of memory, speech, or movement.

2. What are the common causes of subdural hematomas?

brain injury after impactSDHs are often the result of a head injury, which can be caused by car wrecks, falls, or violence. The cause of a subdural hematoma can also be a seemingly mild injury like a bump to the head. The sudden impact can strain the blood vessels within the dura, causing them to tear and bleed. The blood then collects within the skull and creates pressure against the brain.

3. Types of subdural hematoma?

There are three types of SDHs based on when the symptoms appear: acute, subacute, and chronic.

Acute subdural hematomas are the most dangerous of the three types. They are most commonly caused by a severe head injury, like in a car accident, with the symptoms appearing almost immediately as blood quickly pools in the brain tissue. Because acute SDHs are often associated with serious injuries, the prognosis for them can be bleak. They require the longest recovery time of the three types, and the resulting brain damage can lead to permanent mental and physical impairment or death.

Subacute subdural hematomas often occur after less severe head injuries. The symptoms can take days or weeks to appear. If a subacute SDH is found early on, the injured person can make a full recovery.

Chronic subdural hematomas involve much slower bleeds, with symptoms taking weeks or months to appear. Chronic SDHs often occur in older people due to brain shrinkage that comes with aging. As the brain gets smaller, the tiny vessels on the brain stretch and are more likely to tear and leak. As with the subacute SDH, those who experience chronic subdural hematomas can make a full recovery if the injury is diagnosed and treated quickly. However, if a chronic bleed goes undiagnosed, it can prove fatal.

With all three types of hematomas, it is critical to seek medical attention as soon as you begin experiencing symptoms to prevent further brain damage after such a serious injury.

4. What are the symptoms of a subdural hematoma?

Because an SDH can occur with even mild injuries, you need to know what to look for.

Symptoms of a subdural hematoma include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Persistent headaches
  • Balance or walking problems
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Sleepiness
  • Blurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness that may come and go.

5. Can you recover from a subdural hematoma?

Recovery depends on the damage caused by blood pooling and putting pressure on the brain, so the best outcomes are determined in large part by how quickly the brain injury is found and treated.

6. What treatment is available for SDHs?

Treatment is based on the severity of the subdural hematomas.

Craniotomies are performed to treat the most severe acute SDHs by removing a portion of the skull in order to access the hematoma. The surgeon then uses suction or irrigation to remove the blood clot. Once complete, the surgeon replaces the section of skull and secures it with metal plates or screws. 

For chronic SDHs and smaller acute SDHs, burr hole surgery may be performed to remove the hematoma. Burr holes are a surgical technique in which a small hole is drilled in the skull and a tube is inserted to drain the hematoma. The tube may remain placed in the skull for a few days to ensure the hematoma doesn’t return.

In less life-threatening cases, surgery may not be necessary. Instead, the doctor will carefully monitor the SDH until it dissipates.

7. Do I need a lawyer after suffering a subdural hematoma?

If your SDH was caused by someone else’s negligence, be it in a car accident or otherwise, you want to make sure your legal rights are protected. A free consultation with a South Carolina personal injury attorney will provide answers and let you make an informed decision on whether you want to seek legal accountability from the person or company that caused harm.

Subdural hematomas are serious brain injuries, often with permanent consequences. A lawyer can help you recover both economic damages to cover financial losses like medical bills and lost wages and noneconomic damages to compensate you for the injury’s impact on your quality of life.

At our firm, we’ve handled many traumatic brain injury cases and are well-versed in the unique challenges that arise with these types of injuries. We also regularly work with experts like neurologists, economists, and lifecare planners to help ensure our clients are properly reimbursed for every harm and loss the at-fault party caused.

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Kenneth Berger
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Columbia and Myrtle Beach car accident and personal injury lawyer dedicated to securing justice for clients.