My name is Tom and I am the survivor of an ABI.
(N.B. I am hoping that the above gallery will help with understanding some of the injuries I suffered.)
To start off with, I think the most important thing will be to cover the injury I suffered. I am trying to explain what happened in layman’s terms so it is easy to understand for you readers. I’m not sure I fully understand it myself but I have done my best. At the end of this post I am hoping that you will have a basic understanding of the injury I suffered.
On the 30th of August 2009, I was admitted to Southampton Hospital having been assaulted on a night out with friends. The night out had been to celebrate my acceptance into university, it was something of a last hurrah with my friends from my home town, a small town in Dorset in the south of England. At the end of the night, while waiting for friends outside of a take-away restaurant, two men confronted me. After a verbal altercation with one of them, the other punched me in the head, knocking me out before I hit the ground. My head smashed into the pavement with such force that it caused multiple fractures to my skull and internal damage to my brain.
I was admitted to the hospital as a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale, more or less the worst you can be. I had suffered a comminuted fracture of the occipital bone, a longitudinal fracture of the left petrous bone, a subdural haematoma, extensive subarachnoid blood in the basal cisterns, bilateral frontal contusions, and inferior temporal lobe contusions. These injuries also meant that my intracranial pressure (ICP) was extremely high.
This may seem like a lot of medical jargon to you (to me too, really), but I have done some research that has helped me to understand, in very basic terms, what these injuries mean.
- Intracranial pressure – Bleeding and swelling of the brain, causing it to push against the cranium from the inside. This puts pressure on the brain itself and damages it from within.
- Comminuted fracture of the occipital bone – A comminuted fracture is essentially the result of a massive impact to the skull, causing the bones to be forced inwards. These fractures are most commonly associated with assaults: the use of weapons, blunt objects, kicks to the head etc.
- A longitudinal fracture of the left petrous bone – The petrous bone supports the temple as well as housing the bones and vessels required for hearing. A longitudinal fracture is one where “the vertical axis of the fracture parallels the petrous ridge” (I have to say, I am not sure what this means. I will do my best to update this info so it is easier to understand).
- A Subdural Haematoma – Bleeding on the surface of the brain caused by the bursting of small blood vessels that bridge the subdural space, the space created by the abnormal separation of the Dura mater and the arachnoid mater. This is likely to lead to an increase in ICP.
- Subarachnoid blood in the basal cisterns – Bleeding into the wide gap between the two temporal lobes.
- Bilateral frontal contusions – This is essentially severe bruising to the frontal lobes of my brain. The force of when I hit the pavement caused the brain to rattle around inside my skull.
- Inferior temporal lobe contusions – Severe bruising to the inferior temporal lobe due to the way my brain moved about inside my skull at the point of impact.
- Midline shift – Midline shift is a shift of the brain past its centre line. Presence of a midline shift is an indicator of high ICP.
Upon arrival at Southampton hospital and the diagnosis of my injuries, my family were told to expect the worst as I was rushed into surgery where a craniectomy was performed: a procedure where a section of the skull is removed and placed under the surface of the skin in my stomach (as the skull requires the presence of blood or it shrivels and dies), to allow the brain to swell and subsequently reduce the intracranial pressure. A procedure was also performed to remove the shards of skull caused by the comminuted fracture of the occipital bone.
After the surgery, my family was informed it had been as successful as it could be given the circumstances. The doctor told them I would be placed in an induced coma to allow my brain to rest, and the waiting began.
(Please follow my progress with my ABI awareness by following me on Twitter, located on my profile but for anyone my user name is @ABIblogger)