What are DVTs?

Being in bed and not being able to move around can cause blood to pool in the legs and feet. This can cause blood clots in the legs. Blood clots are clumps of blood that form.  But sometimes they are inside a blood vessel. The blood clot can slow or stop the flow of blood. A blood clot is also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or venous thromboembolism (VTE).  
A DVT can happen in as many as 54 percent% of patients in the hospital after a brain injury. These clots can break off and move up the blood stream. They can block the lungs. This is called pulmonary embolism (PE). The clot can also move to the heart or the brain. When this happens, the heart or the brain doesn’t get the blood it needs.

What do I look for if I suspect a blood clot?

  • Swelling, one arm or one leg bigger than the other
  • Redness, pain, hot or warm areas in the legs
  • Lumpy or hard spot over or near a vein
  • Low fever (99.F - 101.F) with no other signs of infection

What do I do if I think my loved one has a blood clot?

If you think a DVT is present, call the doctor right away.  Have your loved one stay in bed and do not put pillows under the knee. Remove tight shoes and clothing, and do not rub the area or exercise the extremity.
Medication is used to make the blood thinner. This helps to break down the clots and keep them from forming. Making sure the person gets enough water, special socks or boots also help to keep clots from forming. If a clot forms, sometimes a tiny filter or screen will be put into one of the large veins to keep the clot from moving up the blood stream.

More detailed information about blood clots: