Lucid interval in acute brain injuries: a crucial lesson on Natasha Richardson’s death

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The death of Broadway star and movie actress Natasha Richardson illustrates the necessity for quick trauma management in cases of acute brain injuries. In hindsight, Richardson didn’t go to the hospital immediately after she banged her head during a ski accident in Mont Tremblant, a luxury resort in Quebec, Canada.

She had a lucid interval and a feeling of wellness not unusual in some victims of head injury. At that crucial time, blood seeped from a torn blood vessel between the brain and skull creating an epidural hematoma, an enlarging blood clot that was big enough to cause her demise. The New York medical examiner confirmed the epidural bleeding from blunt trauma that caused her death.

Richardson, the daughter of famed actress Vanessa Redgrave was conscious and well soon after the ski accident. She refused early on to be brought to the nearest hospital, hence a delay of about 4 hours before life-saving treatment was instituted. Only when she experienced headache, a sign of rising pressure within the enclosed cranium that she decided to go for the doctors’ aid.

There are questions whether an early medical intervention could have saved her life. Perhaps yes. There is a short golden period in those suffering from acute epidural bleed when doctors can still save a life. From Canada, she was flown to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City where she passed on a day later.

The coffin bearing the remains of the talented celebrity was taken out of the Greenwich Funeral Home in Manhattan. Lights of Broadway were dimmed to pay tribute to Miss Richardson, a Tony award winner and a member of a family of distinguished movie and theatre thespians. (Photo Credit: Mickey Strikes; Reuters/ Eric Thayer)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Broadway star Natasha Richardson died of brain injuries in a ski accident” Posted by mesiamd at 3/19/2009

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