Talk and Die Syndrome
Talk and die syndrome is when a person is hurt during a car accident suffering some type of head trauma but fails to seek medical attention immediately because they initially don’t feel any effects of the brain injury. This untreated condition can rapidly lead to severe neurological damage and subsequently death.
Many people think that this type of injury doesn’t exist and is a “myth”, but this dangerous condition is very real. Fortunately, this condition is quite rare but it’s still important to know that it exists and could happen to you if you’ve suffered a head injury after a car accident or some other jarring event. Talk and Die Syndrome occurs without even knowing it’s there.
Even if you feel fine after a car accident, accident victims should always get checked out by a doctor and seek immediate medical care….especially if you’ve suffered any type of head injury. Even a minor event can lead to a traumatic brain injury, permanent brain damage, concussion, closed head injury, and talk and die syndrome.
Adrenaline and pride can mask injuries and this type of injury can be easy to overlook, even a seemingly minor fall. All brain injuries need to be taken very seriously. After all, what’s more important than the function of your brain?
What is Talk and Die Syndrome?
According to Dr. David Good, head of neurology at Penn State’s Hersey College of Medicine, this injury is caused by what is called a epidural hematoma inside the brain tissue.
“Epidural hematoma is due to a fracture of the temporal bone, just in front of the ear. The temporal bone is thin compared to the rest of the skull, and if you bump it, it tends to fracture more easily. The problem is there’s an artery that lies just under the bone. This is truly a medical emergency. You can’t wait three or four hours to treat it. If damaged, it bleeds into what’s called the epidural space, outside the dura, so there are no immediate symptoms.” As the hemorrhage grows, however, the dura pushes in against the brain, and the brain becomes compressed. The person may have a headache and they may briefly lose consciousness, but then they’ll be awake and they’ll talk and seem fairly normal for a period of time—anywhere from five minutes to as much as an hour. As the pressure builds in the brain the person becomes unresponsive, and eventually the bleeding puts pressure on critical centers of the brain like the brain stem, and this can cause death.”
Essentially, talk and die syndrome is the unfortunate situation when a person suffers some type of head trauma but doesn’t seek medical attention or medical treatment because he or she feels perfectly fine or “ok” and isn’t showing the typical signs of a closed head injury. Then this person dies because of neurological damage from the undiagnosed and treated TBI or epidural hematoma.
Actress Natasha Richardson : An Example of Minor Head Injury Turned Deadly
The most well known example of a talk and die syndrome is Natasha Richardson. She was an actress and suffered from this condition in 2009.
Natasha Richardson was skiing on a bunny hill with her child when she fell over and hit her head on the ground. She didn’t think anything of the incident and was seen talking and laughing afterwards. Because she felt fine after hitting her head, she did not go to a doctor or seek medical attention right away.
Later that day, she did end up going to the hospital emergency room seeking medical care complaining of a headache. Unfortunately, this treatment was not sought soon enough and she entered into a coma and ended up passing away. There was an autopsy done afterwards and it showed that she suffered an epidural hematoma.
An epidural hematoma is when there is bleeding within the skull from some sort of blunt force trauma. This could be from a vehicle accident or something as simple as falling on a skiing hill. The brain can still function normally, but eventually blood accumulates between the brain and the skull which causes massive neurological damage as a result of the pressure building.
The example of Natasha Richardson is a stark reminder to take all head injuries seriously. A head injury that is left untreated can cause serious complications or death. Brain injury specialists and neurosurgeons do not ask about the severity of the accident, they only care about the actual brain and scans.
How Common is Talk and Die Syndrome?
Talk and die syndrome is indeed rare, but it is still more common than most people think. They account from roughly 2.6% of all fatal traumatic brain injuries. The National Institutes of Health created a study about talk and die syndrome and found that 15 out of 569 head injury deaths could be contributed to this condition.
Can You Detect Talk and Die Syndrome As a Brain Injury in Time?
An Epidural Hematoma is inherently dangerous because of the lack of symptoms or outward signs that a victim experiences. Pressure is quickly building in the brain, but the inflicted individual can feel ok until it’s too late. Some victims may notice something is “slightly off” such as a low grade headache, slight dizziness, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, some confusion, tiredness or changes in their mood.
If you notice anything at all after a head trauma, regardless if you think it was a minor or serious injury, you should always go to the hospital for a CT scan as quickly as possible.
In a majority of cases, the victim doesn’t show any signs of injury. This is what makes this talk and die syndrome so concerning. They can talk, laugh, walk, drive, and act completely like themselves until this internal pressure builds to a point where it impacts the brain.
Most people that suffer an epidural hematoma that goes undiagnosed die within a few hours. The lack of blood flow to the brain causes serious injury to brain cells and nerves which results in brain death.
The absolute best way to detect and treat talk and die syndrome is with a CT scan immediately following and sort of injury to the head which can include a vehicle accident, slip and fall, workplace accident, etc.
Epidural vs. Subdural Hematoma
Both epidural hematomas and subdural hematomas are caused by internal bleeding of the brain called intracranial hematomas. A rupture of the middle meningeal artery usually leads to a hematoma. They are both extremely dangerous, but the main difference is the lack of symptoms in a epidural hematoma and where the brain bleeding occurs.
An epidural hematoma is when there is bleeding inside of the skull but the bleeding is located outside of the dura membrane. As mentioned previously, an epidural hematoma patient can remain conscious with little or no symptoms which can quickly progress to a coma and/or death. According to Case Western Reserve University the prognosis for an epidural hematoma is “5%- 10% mortality if treated within the first few hours. Mortality is largely due to increased intra-cranial pressure and herniation.”
A subdural hematoma happens when the bleeding is located inside the dura but still on the outside of the brain. A subdural hematoma can be acute, subacute, or even chronic. This is still a very dangerous condition but it does not present in the same ways. You will usually have symptoms present such as a severe headache which can then be treated before major damage is done. The prognosis for a sudraul hematoma is “50% – 90% mortality. The high morbidity and mortality is due to parenchymal damage underlying the hematoma and raised intracranial pressure.”
Protecting Your Loved Ones
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from Talk and Die Syndrome or other head injuries is simply to be your own advocate, be observant, and be aware of the symptoms. If you think you might be suffering a brain injury of any kind, it’s imperative to seek immediate medical attention. Go to the emergency room and get a CT scan. It could be the difference between life and death.
Attorneys For Talk and Die Syndrome
If you or a family member has suffered from talk and die syndrome, contact our attorneys for help. The attorneys at The Clark Law Office can help you will any personal injury matters including complex medical issues such as Talk and Die Syndrome or a Hematoma. We will work with the best experts in the State to build a strong case for your recovery. Talking to an attorney is always free and we will not charge you anything unless you receive a settlement. Call us today at 517-347-6900 for a free consultation.