The symptoms of a slow brain bleed may not appear until days or even weeks after the injury occurs. A person suffering a severe subdural hematoma may quickly lose consciousness and fall into a coma, whereas someone with subacute or chronic subdural hematoma would have to wait to see symptoms.
Symptoms that accompany this type of injury can include:
- Persistent headaches that become worse over time
- Changes in behavior
- Lack of consciousness
Symptoms of a slow brain bleed can vary substantially from one person to the next, and several factors affect the way in which an individual responds to this injury, such as the size of the brain bleed, the individual’s age, and other medical conditions they may be experiencing.
Causes of Subdural Hematoma
Subdural hematoma, or a slow brain bleed, results from a head injury, such as one that a patient may incur during a fall. People who take blood thinners or those who have blood disorders experience increased susceptibility to this type of injury.
Subdural Hematoma Types
A subdural hemorrhage occurs when a blood vessel bursts near the surface of the brain. This causes blood to build up between the brain and the membrane that surrounds the brain, increasing pressure on the brain and potentially causing damage.
There are three types of subdural hematomas:
- Acute: This type of brain bleed—the most dangerous kind—usually results from severe head trauma. With an acute subdural hematoma, you experience severe bleeding in the brain that could cause you to lose consciousness or immediately fall into a coma. An acute subdural hematoma usually appears within 72 hours of a traumatic head injury.
- Subacute: This type of brain bleed typically appears within three to seven days after an injury.
- Chronic: A chronic subdural hematoma may take weeks or even months to show symptoms. This type of brain bleed often affects elderly patients, as brain shrinkage has stretched their blood vessels that travel from the skull to the brain, making them more vulnerable to injury. The brain shrinkage also creates more space in the skull, allowing more blood to accumulate before it creates enough pressure for visible symptoms.
Factors That Increase the Risk of Subdural Hemorrhages
Elderly adults have a susceptibility to this type of injury since they have more fragile bodies and often struggle with balance and coordination, creating a greater risk of falling. Even mild head trauma can cause a slow brain bleed.
Caregivers may overlook symptoms in older adults more often, mistaking them for normal signs of aging. In cases of subacute or chronic brain bleeds—in which the symptoms only appear weeks or even months after the injury and worsen gradually over time—the likelihood that a caregiver will initially overlook the symptoms grows even higher.
Other circumstances that increase the likelihood of subdural hemorrhage include:
- Taking aspirin or anticoagulants daily
- Alcohol abuse
- Blood disorders
- Frequent falls
- A history of repeated head injuries
Preventing Subdural Hematomas
A caregiver may prevent subdural hematomas by taking measures to prevent falls and avoid head injuries, particularly among the elderly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of four people over the age of 65 falls each year, and the majority do not tell their doctors.
Falling once also doubles the likelihood that the individual will fall again. Falls among this age group accounts for most traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), so caregivers must take steps to reduce the likelihood of an elderly adult falling.
Some precautions you can take to reduce the likelihood of a fall include:
- Keeping patients moving with physical activity
- Removing or repairing tripping hazards, such as loose rugs, loose floorboards and carpeting, and spilled liquids
- Adding non-slip mats to showers and bathtubs
- Ensuring the facility has adequate lighting
- Ensuring the patient has access to assisted devices, such as handrails in hallways, grab bars in showers, a plastic seat in a shower or tub, and a raised toilet seat
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Today to Learn More
If someone you love is suffering because of a brain bleed that you believe occurred due to the abuse or negligence of their nursing home staff, you may be entitled to compensation for their personal injuries.