Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.See all posts »
Hitting Your Head
I have dizziness and when I look down to get something out of my pocket, for example, I get very dizzy and it is a lot harder for me to write this because my hands are weak. Can you tell me what you think I have?"
With the usual caveat that I am not trying to practice medicine over the Internet without the benefit of a full history and physical examination, this question is important, both for persons indoors and outdoors, because falls occur in all settings. First, one must ask if the victim was knocked unconscious during the event, in which case the diagnosis of concussion must be considered. Second, whenever someone strikes his or her head, the rescuer must assume that there may also be a neck injury. I would be particularly worried about that possibility in this circumstance, given the report of weakness in the hands, which might represent a spinal cord or nerve root injury, along with a possible bony spine or ligamentous injury.
The dizziness presents another set of possibilities, including concussion, contused (bruised) brain, blood clot within or outside the surface of the brain, and/or skull fracture. The dizziness and other symptoms might also be due to something entirely unrelated to the fall.
So, my advice is for this correspondent to be thoroughly evaluated by a physician trained to recognize the problems associated with head, spine, and nerve root injuries possibly associated with a fall.
Tags: head injury, wilderness medicine, outdoor medicine, healthline
Recent Blog Posts
Jul 01, 2013
In Advance of a Wildfire
Feb 11, 2013
Topical Ivermectin Lotion for Treating Head Lice
Feb 04, 2013
Public Health Interventions and Snowmobile Fatality Rates