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What is a patient's treatment immediately after a brain injury?

When a person suffers a blow to the head in an auto accident or a fall, the first treatment they will receive will be in the emergency room. There, ER physicians will assess and evaluate the patient and the injury to determine the course of treatment.

Often ER doctors will order CAT scans to make sure that there is no bleeding on the brain from a subdural hematoma. If there is, the patient will need immediate surgical intervention to drain the blood off of the brain before the pressure on it shuts down vital organs, causing death.

Post-surgical patients often spend some time being monitored in the Intensive Care Unit. Doctors sometimes medically induce comas in their patients to give the brain a chance to heal. In those cases, patients will usually have their breathing aided by a ventilator.

Comatose patients have wires and tubes attached to almost every surface of their bodies. It can be quite frightening to see a loved one in this condition. But this is a necessary step in the healing process.

If they are going to be unconscious for an extended period, they will receive sustenance through a nasogastric tube that is connected directly to their stomachs.

As the brain injury patient begins to heal, he or she will be medically "stepped down" from these intensive treatments and medical devices. Should they fail to respond or recover sufficiently, at some point a more permanent setting may have to be designated where they can continue to receive life-sustaining care.

The medical bills from such an injury can be in the seven figures. Future medical care in Los Angeles can swell that even higher. Seeking redress from the at-fault entity or individual is usually necessary to cover expenses and pay for modifications to living accommodations.

Source: Brain Injury Association of America, "Treatment," accessed March 18, 2016

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