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Your Healthy Family: ER doctor explains common hail injuries, prevention and when to seek treatment

Posted at 11:39 AM, Aug 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-07 15:59:00-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – Dr. Auna Leatham an emergency medicine physician with UCHealth Memorial Central Hospital in Colorado Springs says that when the weather turns severe and large hailstones fall from the sky, there are injuries they commonly see people for in the emergency department.

“We see a lot of head trauma, we see lacerations which are large cuts on the scalp, we see hematomas which are big bruises or swelling where they got hit.  In very rare cases we can see in children skull fractures or small fractures if they were hit directly on the bone by hail. Concussion is the most common injury.”

Head laceration
Amy Greenwalt from Colorado Springs was hit in the head by a large hailstone and had to seek medical attention.

Amy Greenwalt from Colorado Springs shared a couple of photos of a hail injury she suffered this week.  Amy had a large cut on the top of her head that needed three staples to close. She was also diagnosed with a concussion and has bruises on her arm and foot.  Like most people Amy knows to seek shelter when large hail is coming down, but she says she simply misjudged how fast the storm was moving in. Amy thought she had time to run outside to grab something from her truck.

Dr. Leatham says it’s a common mistake many people can make.  “Little hail can turn into big hail quickly, very quickly. Even if you see little hail don’t try to make it, just get inside as soon as possible.  Don’t forget your pets, and get children inside as soon as possible. Also think of the elderly or anyone who might be on blood thinner medication. You want you to get cover because those little storms as we saw, Monday and last month (June) can turn into big storms quickly, and be very damaging.”

Arms bruised by hail
Protecting your head with your arms is one way to prevent a concussion or deep cut to your head or face.

If shelter isn’t available Dr. Leathem says you there are things you can do to minimize your risk of serious injury.  “Think about protecting your most vital body parts, tucking your head down, or putting your arms over your head. If your arms get pelted by hail it’s going to hurt it can leave some injuries, but not as bad as if you get hit in the head or face.”

For anyone who was hit by the hail this week but decided they didn’t need medical attention, Dr. Leatham says there are a few symptoms you can be watching out for that would signal you seek medical care.

“If you have pain that is getting worse not better, or pain that is the worst you have felt.  If you were knocked out or hit in the head if you have any sort of symptoms like continuously vomiting or visual changes, things like that we would want to see you.”

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