Heads Up Alaska: Heading Into Surgery
When someone has a traumatic brain injury, emergency surgery can be the best option for recovery
ANCHORAGE - The brain is the most important part of our body. Still, there are many of us who don't give it a second thought.
"It contains our mind, our thought processes and the control center," said Dr. Tim Cohen, a neurosurgeon at Alaska Regional Hospital.
Until we injure our brain, many of us don’t realize how unforgiving the organ is.
When someone has a traumatic brain injury or TBI, emergency surgery can be the best option for recovery; it can help relieve pressure inside the skull, repair skull fractures and remove blood clots.
At Alaska Regional, one of many jobs Dr. Cohen performs is analysis of CT scans. He looks for blood clots, called subdural hematomas. If these are left untreated, the patient could die. Though surgery is the only option to relieve the pressure, most people worry they may not come out of it the same.
“A lot of people and a lot of Alaskans are concerned with their function. 'Am I going to be independent after this injury and surgery? Am I going to be able to take care of myself?,'" said Dr. Cohen.
Dr. Cohen says some of the recoveries he's seen are amazing.
"I have patients who have epidermal hematomas and they go home a few days later. It's spectacular recovery. So it's not a debilitating surgery where the surgery itself creates a lot of problems. It's the TBI that creates the downstream issues,” he said.