MedlinePlus, which provides information from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, describes an epidural hemorrhage (EDH) as bleeding that occurs between the skull and the outermost covering of the brain, known as the dura mater. Medical professionals often call EDHs epidural hematomas, as both terms refer to bleeding or a collection of blood. The individual must seek treatment immediately, as an EDH can quickly become life-threatening.
Trauma Leading to Epidural Hemorrhage
EDHs are present most commonly in children, as the dura mater does not attach closely to the skull until after age two. When an adult suffers an EDH, it typically results from a severe head injury. The brain and its blood vessels shrink and become thinner and more fragile over time, making the elderly also more susceptible to EDHs and other brain injuries than younger adults. According to Healthline, individuals at a high risk for EDH include:
- Older adults and the elderly
- Those who take blood thinning medications
- Those with trouble balancing
- Those who experienced head trauma
A combination of any of these factors can compound a person’s risk of EDH. For example, an older person on blood thinners who experiences nursing home abuse presents several risk factors, making an EDH more likely. The Consumer Voice lists examples of physical nursing home abuse, which may include hitting, shoving, and rough handling during the provision of care, each of which can contribute to EDHs or other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
Noticing Signs of Epidural Hemorrhage in Your Loved One
MedlinePlus notes that individuals suffering from an EDH most often experience a brief loss of consciousness, after which they become alert and then lose consciousness again afterward. While this describes the typical hallmarks of EDH, those affected may not experience this pattern. Other symptoms can occur immediately to hours after the injury occurs and may include:
- Confusion and dizziness
- Fatigue, weakness, or lethargy
- One enlarged pupil
- Severe headache
- Nausea or vomiting
EDH requires immediate, life-saving medical care. If left untreated, the EDH will likely cause death.
Medical Testing to Diagnose Epidural Hemorrhage
When a patient arrives for emergency care with a suspected EDH, the doctor may perform neurological tests to determine the current level of brain and nervous system functioning. They will also take note of symptoms to check for signs of increased intracranial pressure (ICP). If they suspect ICP, the patient will likely undergo an imaging test such as a CT scan or an MRI to find the size and location of the hemorrhage. Depending on the severity of the patient’s condition, they may require emergency surgery to relieve ICP.
Treatment and Recovery
In most cases, the primary treatment goals for EDH focus on saving the patient’s life. According to Healthline, surgeons typically perform a craniotomy, in which they open part of the skull to alleviate ICP and drain the bleeding. If the EDH appears smaller in size and does not place excessive pressure on the brain, doctors may instead choose aspiration, which allows them to remove the hematoma through a much smaller opening in the skull. Doctors may also prescribe medications to reduce swelling in the brain and prevent seizures after recovery.
EDH carries a high risk of death. Depending on the severity of the condition and the immediacy of treatment, patients may survive. However, they often face extensive recovery times and complications such as permanent brain damage and physical disability. Rehabilitative care can help patients who survive with lasting effects manage or minimize the difficulties they face because of their EDH.
Support for Individuals with Epidural Hemorrhage
Individuals recovering from EDH, especially older adults and the elderly, require specialized care to facilitate the improvement of their condition, increase their quality of life, and prevent the recurrence of EDH and other TBIs. Medical providers, nursing home staff, family, and friends can help patients achieve their recovery goals.
Follow-Up Appointments and Daily Care
Once the patient returns to their home or nursing facility, doctors will likely schedule follow-up appointments with the patient to monitor their progress. Even if they feel better, the patient should attend these appointments. They may also need to follow specific care routines, such as bed rest, limited activity, medications, and physical therapy.
Support From Friends and Family
Loved ones can provide physical care for their spouse, friend, or family member recovering from EDH, as well as emotional and mental support. Receiving care from someone they love can help boost the patient’s morale, and their loved ones can help them stay on track with appointments and daily care.
Seeking Legal Assistance
While older adults often suffer brain injuries as the result of a fall or bump on the head, their nursing home may also hold responsibility for your loved one’s EDH. According to the National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA), a U.S. House of Representatives report showed that approximately 1 in 10 nursing homes received citations for violations of federal law that caused residents serious injury and placed them at risk for death.
If you believe that your loved one suffered an epidural hemorrhage as the result of nursing home abuse, the attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can help you seek compensation and hold the facility accountable.