NYC Medical Examiner Performing Autopsy on Natasha Richardson

Such outcomes are "pretty rare," Flamm said. However, he added that it was certainly a possibility that physicians hold in their mind when seeing patients.

"It's quite unusual, but we see a lot of people in the emergency room and if they have a head injury and the scan is OK, we send them home but with instructions to 'look out,'" Flamm said. "I don't think any neurologist would say they had never heard of this scenario."

Richardson, who had appeared in several movies and won a 1998 Tony Award for her performance in Cabaret, was married to the actor Liam Neeson. The couple's two sons were reportedly with Richardson on the ski holiday.

Richardson was born into one of the most lauded acting families in Great Britain. She was the daughter of the actress Vanessa Redgrave and the film director Tony Richardson, who died in 1991, the niece of the actress Lynn Redgrave, and the granddaughter of Sir Michael Redgrave.

More information

Learn more about traumatic brain injury at the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

SOURCES: Arno Fried, M.D., chairman, neurosurgery, Hackensack University Medical Center, New Jersey; Steven R. Flanagan, M.D., director, Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, New York University Medical Center, New York City; Eugene Flamm, M.D., chair of neurosurgery, Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York City; Bloomberg News; CNN; The New York Times

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