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Soap Opera Characters Can Live Dangerously

June 05, 1996|KATHLEEN DOHENY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Soap opera characters, often unlucky in love, are also accident- and illness-prone.

Not content to suffer from garden-variety colds and flu, their battles usually involve more exotic problems.

Note: It's no accident that head blows and internal injuries are popular in soap story lines. Besides providing instant drama, they make the jobs of makeup people and writers easier--there are no nasty scars to create, no need to remember that an appendectomy survivor must wear her bikini and her scar to the beach.

The maladies, please:

* Concussion: A jarring injury to the brain after a hard blow or a fall, which causes brief unconsciousness. Traffic accidents, bar fights and sports injuries are common causes.

* Contusion: Injury to skin and tissues from a fall or other injury; a bruise. Example: a cerebral contusion.

* Epidural hematoma: A blood clot to the brain; its immediate removal is vital.

* Abdominal trauma: An injury to the stomach area, such as after a car crash, in which a number of conditions--ruptured spleen, internal bleeding--must be ruled out quickly.

* Amnesia: Loss of memory, sometimes even the loss of one's personal identity, due to injury to the brain or other problems.

Sources: Lori Robertson, RN, medical consultant, "General Hospital," nurse at Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital, Whittier; Webster's Medical Desk Dictionary; the Merck Manual.

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