And these are just a few of the symptoms of brain injury and/or brain trauma.  Others include characteristics that are common with many of us, such as irritability and lethargy.  The sources of brain injuries are as numerous as their symptoms - direct blows to the head all the way to violent shaking.

It's very likely the victim and perpetrator in this incident are acquaintances.  And that the perpetrator had no intention of causing any harm to the victim.  And feels just awful about the incident.  And that the victim will do his or her best to downplay whatever symptoms he or she is experiencing so that everyone can get on with the game happily and stress-free.

This could be a very big mistake.

Like most medical conditions, there are different types and degrees of head injuries.  Some head injuries do not compromise the brain tissue but may cause very alarming visual manifestations such as profuse bleeding (lacerations).  Skull fractures may be open (bleeding) or closed.  Because the skull is designed to protect brain tissue, the brain itself may not be injured even if there are traumatic visible signs (such as lumps or bleeding).

Symptoms to watch out for (and they may occur hours or even days after the initial blow as brain swelling and bleeding often progress slowly) include vomiting, an unusual sensitivity to bright lights, speech-impairment, difficulty concentrating, numbness, forgetfulness, dizziness.  Loss of consciousness (including coma), paralysis, bleeding from the ear are strong triggers to seek immediate medical attention.  In fact, if a victim who has recently suffered a head injury is not fully awake and responsive, bystanders should not hesitate to enlist medical assistance.

A CT (computerized tomography) is an x-ray used to reveal suspected bleeding and/or swelling of fluid-filled brain cavities.  An MRI scan also displays images of the brain using magnetic energy rather than radiation.  An EEG (electroencephalogram) records the electrical activity of the brain.  Neurosurgery may be performed to remove blood clots that could lead to stroke and other complications.

The bottom line is that anyone who experiences a head injury of any type should self-monitor themselves for symptoms days and even weeks after the incident.  Friends and family can help, too, by looking for changes in the victim's behavior or cognitive status.  Even when the initial symptoms seem mild (or in some cases, non-existent), the potential is always there for serious consequences to develop over time. In the case of the golf ball victim, dizziness should not be dismissed, even if it eases after a few minutes.  It may be the result of pain and trauma with no underlying causes, but there is a chance that damage to brain tissue has resulted.  Only medical investigation can determine the truth.

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