What is a brain haemorrhage?
A brain haemorrhage is a bleed occurring inside the brain or in the tissue that surrounds it due to an external impact/trauma or in some cases a haemorrhagic stroke (the rupture of an aneurysm in the skull).
There are four main classifications of brain bleed, which you may hear the clinician looking after your loved one refer to:
- Subdural haemorrhage/Hematoma: Bleeding between the dura (the outermost layer of the lining surrounding the brain), and the arachnoid (the layer of the lining below the dura). As such, the bleeding is not inside the brain, but it can still be life-threatening as it can place pressure on the brain itself. Some subdural hematomas will fade naturally, or some may require drainage to remove pressure in the skull.
- Extradural haemorrhage: Bleeding between the inner surface of the skull and the outermost layer of the dura (the lining surrounding the brain), called the endosteal layer. Again, this bleed does not occur in the brain itself, but can place pressure on the brain, which may need to be urgently relieved.
- Subarachnoid haemorrhage: Bleeding between the subarachnoid space surrounding the brain – essentially on the surface of the brain.
- Intracerebral haemorrhage: Bleeding within the brain itself, which can interrupt the oxygen supply to the brain tissue, leading to potential brain and nerve damage.
During the initial period when the brain injury is being assessed, the doctors will determine the type of bleeding, and hence the best course of treatment. It is important to remember that while this type of injury is very serious, the medical profession has come a long way in being able to give people the best chance of overcoming traumatic brain injuries; see the treatment section below.
How is a brain haemorrhage treated?
Time is of the essence following a traumatic brain injury, especially if a brain haemorrhage has been discovered. To detect a haemorrhage, the patient will be taken for a CT scan, which is rather like a 3D X-ray. A lumbar puncture may also be taken to add to the diagnostic information. Once a brain bleed is confirmed, the treatment plan will be urgently formulated and carried out. In the initial period, medication may be provided to try to maximise blood flow to the brain (to prevent further damage due to lack of blood supply), relieve pain, prevent seizures and nausea.
Surgery may be necessary to remove pressure on the brain by draining or removing blood that has expanded into or around the brain. It may also be necessary to stem bleeding that is occurring, perhaps by clipping or sealing off an aneurysm.
Once the initial medical emergency is over, doctors will closely monitor the patient, especially for the following few days. In many cases, it will be necessary simply to wait to determine the outcome of the injury and the subsequent surgery.
What is the chance of recovery after brain haemorrhage?
Many patients who suffer a brain haemorrhage survive, due in large part to the medical expertise now available. Every brain injury is different and therefore it is impossible to predict with certainty how a patient who has received a major head trauma leading to bleeding in or around the brain, will be in the long term. There are a range of potential impairments following a brain haemorrhage including:
- Visual disturbance or loss of sight (of varying degrees)
- Communication problems (speaking, and understanding others)
- Poor memory
- Personality changes
- Unusual sensations
Patients will often receive rehabilitation in the form of physiotherapy, speech and language, and occupational therapy. Psychological therapy may also be needed to help deal with the mental trauma and adjustment to any loss of function.
Unfortunately, depending on the severity of the bleeding, and the speed of treatment, some patients do not make a complete recovery. Persistent headaches, seizures, weakness and sensory problems may never completely dissipate.
In some cases, the patient may not awaken from coma because the damage caused to the brain is more extensive. Even if recovery does occur, lifelong, 24-hour care may be required.
Can I make a claim for compensation if I have suffered a brain haemorrhage?
If you or a loved one has suffered a brain haemorrhage following a brain injury that was not your fault, you may be able to claim compensation. At IBB Solicitors, we have a specialist team of personal injury solicitors who understand the impact and damage caused by brain injuries, and will work with you to seek the compensation you are due.
If we are confident you have a strong claim, we may offer to take on your case on a ‘no win no fee’ basis, meaning if your case is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay any legal fees (although you may need to pay disbursements).
Our personal injury team at IBB Solicitors have acquired a strong reputation for our expertise around head injury accident claims and for ensuring a professional, empathetic, and friendly approach to all of the cases we handle. We are recognised by Headway, the country’s leading brain injury charity as specialist solicitors, in handing brain injury claims.
If you would like further information on making a compensation claim for a brain haemorrhage, please call our office on 0333 123 9099.