Talk and Die Syndrome: Fine One Moment and Gone the Next

A loved one was rear-ended at the intersection of 11th Street and Sandy Hollow Road in Rockford and hit her head as a result. She seemed fine, however, and refused medical treatment at the scene of the accident. She even drove herself home. An hour later, she was complaining of a severe headache and blurred vision. She was rushed by ambulance to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, but doctors were unable to save her—she slipped into a coma and died.

Talk and Die Syndrome

This scenario is typical of an accident victim who has suffered an epidural hematoma – a closed head injury that occurs when the brain bounces against the skull during a crash. Trauma doctors call this injury “talk and die syndrome,” because the victim may seem completely normal for a time—there may be no outward sign of injury. Minutes or hours later, she may experience a severe headache, blurred vision, and then start to get confused—eventually slipping into a coma.

An epidural hematoma occurs after an injury that damages tissue or blood vessels, causing bleeding between the skull and the dura mater—the protective tissue that surrounds the brain. A blood clot, or hematoma, forms, which presses against the brain, shifting it as the hematoma swells. The brain structures are pushed against the skull as the pressure increases, causing loss of vision, speech, and consciousness. In the worst-case scenario, the brain loses its blood supply and dies.

When to Seek Medical Treatment

An epidural hematoma is often treatable, but the accident victim must get to the emergency room quickly. So, how do you know if you need to be evaluated after a bump on the head? It is better to err on the side of caution—be sure to get checked at the emergency room after a car accident. In addition, if you lose consciousness—even for a few seconds—it is important to seek treatment right away.

If you have lost a loved one, we are here to answer your questions during a free and confidential case evaluation. If you found this article helpful, we invite you to share it with your friends and family on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus.