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Is that head injury an epidural hematoma?

A construction worker who suffers an on-the-job head injury might feel pressure to "work through" it, especially if there is no blood or initial loss of consciousness.

That pressure could come from a foreman or coworkers or could be self-motivated if the construction worker is worried about taking time off of work. But that could be a fatal mistake if the injured worker's post-accident conscious state is actually a lucid interval.

The window of lucidity can be short

If the injured worker doesn't seek treatment, after a short period of minutes or hours, he or she could lapse into unconsciousness from which there may be no recovery.

The reason why head injuries can turn life-threatening after first appearing to be quite minor is that the damage has already been done but is not yet apparent. That blow to the head that may or may not have involved unconsciousness caused a deadly brain bleed.

As more blood continues to leak into the closed space inside the victim's skull, pressure builds up on the delicate brain tissue. When that pressure reaches a certain point, the victim loses consciousness.

Epidural hematomas

As many as 20 percent of patients with epidural hematomas die from their conditions. The risk of dying rises when injured victims refuse treatment that can potentially be life-saving.

It can be tempting to shake off a head injury, telling yourself and others that you're fine. All you have is a headache, which is understandable after a knock to the head. Indeed, you may appear to be completely normal, walking around and talking coherently.

Until you suddenly aren't. But by then it might be too late.

Prompt treatment saves lives

During an epidural hematoma, the blood accumulates between the dura mater and the patient's skull. The only way to treat the condition is to relieve the pressure on the brain tissue. That requires the skill of a neurosurgeon to drill a hole into the bony skull and suction off the blood. Without this treatment, it's likely that the victim will succumb to his or her injury.

If you hit your head working on a New York City construction site, make sure you are evaluated and treated promptly by a medical professional.

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