NORFOLK, Va. – A medical examiner has ruled that it was head trauma that killed actor and comedian Bob Saget.
The news is surprising to some, and the uncertainty has some questioning not only the details of what happened, but what someone should do if they sustain a head injury.
Dr. Craig Futterman works at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., and was a good friend of Saget’s. The two grew up in Norfolk.
“It’s hard because Bob was a friend, and Bob was such a good guy and really at the peak of his career, and for a silly accident like this to happen… we don’t know exactly what it was, but whether he fell or hit his head on something, it’s just sad. And that’s the way I feel for Bob’s family,” expressed Dr. Futterman.
Saget was found dead Jan. 9 in a Florida hotel room. He’d performed in the area the night before as part of a stand-up tour.
A statement from Saget’s family read, “They have concluded that he accidentally hit the back of his head on something, thought nothing of it and went to sleep. No drugs or alcohol were involved.”
While deaths from traumatic brain injuries are rare, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports there are an estimated 1.5 million traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. yearly.
Dr. Futterman told News 3, “This happens a lot more than you think. It comes out when people are well-known like Bob or when it’s a child sometimes, it gets a lot of publicity. Frankly, I’m glad it does get a lot of publicity, because sometimes it increases our awareness, and we make better efforts to avoid these things.”
He added that if someone sustains a head injury, they should seek medical attention to be on the safe side.
Futterman shared some warning signs:
Physical Symptoms - which may be immediate or with in 1 hour:
- Loss of consciousness
- Mild to severe headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dilation of pupils
- Loss of coordination
- Dizziness or fatigue
- Loss of balance
- Sensory symptoms
- Blurred vision
- Double vision
- Ringing sound in ears
- Loss of ability to smell
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Memory problems
- Alexia (an acquired disorder resulting in the inability to read or comprehend written language)
- Speaking disorder
- Dysgraphia (inability to write coherently)
- Mood swings
- Depression or anxiety
Dr. Daniel Munn, chief of surgery and director of trauma and acute care surgery at Riverside Regional Medical Center, said that while we don't know if it applies in Saget's situation, anyone on blood thinners should be especially wary after a head injury.
"If you have even have minor head impact and you’re on blood thinners, really, of any kind, you need to be more cautious and more suspicious that you may have or may develop a more serious injury," stated Dr. Munn.
Both Dr. Futterman and Dr. Munn said serious head injuries affect all ages and shouldn't be taken lightly.
"If somebody gets a head injury, a change in their level of consciousness, or they just don’t look right, get them to medical attention," Futterman said. "Don’t say, 'Let’s see if it gets better.' Get them to medical attention."
Of course, for anyone alone, like Saget was, it can be more difficult to recognize warning signs.
If suffering a head injury while alone and you remain conscious, Munn said, "While you still have the wherewithal to do it, you should probably be dialing 911."