In some cases, a subdural haematoma can cause damage to the brain that requires further care and recovery time.
How long it takes to recover varies from person to person. Some people may feel better within a few weeks or months, while others may never make a full recovery even after many years.
This will largely depend on how severe the damage to your brain is.
What problems might I have?
Many people are left with some long-lasting problems after treatment for a subdural haematoma.
These can include changes to your mood, concentration or memory problems, seizures (fits), speech problems, and weakness in your limbs.
There's also a risk the haematoma could come back after treatment. You may have some follow-up appointments and brain scans to check if it has returned. Sometimes surgery to drain the haematoma may need to be repeated.
Contact your GP or hospital care team as soon as possible if any of the symptoms of a subdural haematoma return, such as a worsening headache or periods of confusion.
If you have any persistent problems after treatment for a subdural haematoma, you may need further treatment and support to help you return to your normal everyday activities. This is known as rehabilitation.
A number of different healthcare professionals may be involved in your rehabilitation, depending on the specific problems you're experiencing.
- physiotherapists can help with movement problems, such as muscle weakness or poor co-ordination
- speech and language therapists can help with speech and communication problems
- occupational therapists can identify everyday tasks you have trouble with and help find ways to make things easier for you
You might also benefit from some psychological support or therapy if you find it difficult adjusting to everyday life after a subdural haematoma.
Returning to your normal activities
While you are recovering, it's important to take things easy and not to do too much too soon. Try to make time every day to completely rest your brain from any kind of distraction, such as the radio or television.
Speak to your specialist for advice before driving, flying or returning to sport as sometimes these can be dangerous while recovering from a subdural haematoma.
How soon you'll be able to drive will depend on the type of subdural haematoma you had, what treatment you had or continue to have, and whether you have any persistent problems, such as seizures.
More information about the medical rules for driving is available on the GOV.UK website.
You may be able to find out more about recovering from a brain injury and living with the after-effects through support groups and charities.
Charities and organisations that may be able to help include:
For more information about all aspects of head injuries, you can call the Headway helpline on 0808 800 2244 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. The helpline staff can:
- advise you about other sources of support
- help you find local rehabilitation services
- give you support and advice if you experience problems
You can use the Headway website to search for local Headway services. They offer a wide range of services, including rehabilitation programmes, carer support, social reintegration, community outreach, and respite care (when short-term support is provided for someone who needs care – for example, to give the usual carers a break).