As close friends and family members continue to mourn movie star Natasha Richardson, questions are beginning to arise as to whether her life could have been saved if she had received medical attention for her traumatic brain injury sooner.
Richardson, 45, passed away on Wednesday—two days after she fell and hit her head while taking a beginner’s ski lesson at a Canadian ski resort. While initial reports indicated that she had been laughing and walking after the accident, new information has surfaced indicating that this may not have been the case.
Paramedics who arrived at the scene to check on her were reportedly turned away. They say, however, that the movie star wasn’t laughing and walking after the accident as was initially reported, but that she was sitting on a stretcher.
It wasn’t until Richardson began complaining of a headache that a second group of paramedics arrived at the scene to take the movie star to a local hospital. While the resort says the ambulance took Richardson away no more than an hour after the first ambulance had driven off, ambulance records indicate that this may have occurred at an even later time and that the actress was not admitted to the hospital until about four hours after she fell. Autopsy results indicate that Richardson died of an epidural hematoma, which involves brain bleeding between the skull and the cover of the brain.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
While some head injuries may seem minor, Richardson’s tragic death is a reminder of how it is so important to get medical attention as soon as possible—especially as some people who hit their heads may appear to be fine at first and then within hours their condition rapidly deteriorates to the point of death.
Symptoms of a possible TBI may include dizziness, nausea, vision problems, balance problems headaches, balance difficulties, sensitivity to light, headaches, problems communicating, and appearing “out of it.”
Richardson’s fall accident on a beginner’s ski slope is also raising the issue of whether it is important for skiers and snowboarders to use helmets.
The movie star leaves behind her husband, film star Liam Neeson, her two sons, Michael, 13, and Daniel, 12, her mother, the legendary actress Vanessa Redgrave, and her sister, actress Joely Richardson.
Richardson Saw Doctors Several Hours After Fall, New York Times, March 20, 2009
Autopsy: Natasha Richardson Died From Bleeding Near Brain, SeattlePI.com, March 19, 2009
Related Web Resources:
Natasha Richardson: A death in the fullness of life, Roger Ebert, March 20, 2009
Epidural Hematoma, MUHealth.org