Injuries to any part of the body can be dangerous and very painful. Traumatic brain injury is no different but it comes along with several dangers. In this case, the injury could hamper physical or physiological processes for some time or permanently.
In this post, we will discuss this condition, its symptoms, causes, treatments, and prevention. If you are ready, let’s get straight to business.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
This is the damage done to some parts of the brain or the whole of it. It is a result of a sudden jolt or violent blow to the head. In many countries, it is one of the biggest causes of death and disability.
The jolt or blow causes the brain to collide with the skull. As a result of this, nerve fibers may tear or bleed, and in some cases, the brain bruises. It is also possible for a broken part of the skull to piece brain tissue.
Some of the top causes of traumatic brain injury include sports injuries, falls, gunshot wounds, vehicle accidents, and physical aggression. According to the CDC, traumatic brain injury is a deviation from normal brain function. This results from bumps, jolts, blows, or penetrative injuries to the head.
When this occurs, medical attention should be sought. We will look at the symptoms of this condition later in this post, but first, a few quick facts.
Traumatic Brain Injury: Quick Facts
Check out these quick facts about TBI below:
- The effects of this condition are the function of how severe the injury is and the location it occurs.
- It is one of the major causes of disability and death worldwide.
- Some of the major causes of TBI include road accidents, falls, and sports-related injuries.
- Top symptoms include persistent headaches, confusion, memory loss, and convulsions.
- When you receive a head injury, you should seek medical help, no matter how mild the injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
Symptoms of this condition may appear immediately, after 24 hours, or a while after the injury occurs. In some cases, the symptoms are very subtle so one is hardly able to relate the problem to the injury. For some people, they are fine after the injury, only to worsen later on.
This condition can result in physiological and physical effects. The first physical effects are swelling and bruising. However, with an increase in pressure within the brain, any of the following results:
- Damaging of brain tissue due to continuous pressure against the inner wall of the skull. It could also be from different parts of the brain pressing against each other.
- The reduction of the ability to supply oxygen and the required nutrients to the brain due to pressure.
This is one of the major signs of TBI and its one of the reasons why one should go for a checkup. Some signs of this include bruising around the eyes (known as raccoon eyes) or behind the ears (known as battle sign). When this occurs, it could lead to a life-threatening situation.
What are the other signs of TBI? Here’s a list below:
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilated pupils
- Inability to awake from sleep
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of coordination
- Repeated vomiting
- Severe headache
- Slurred speech
- Weakness and numbness of arms and legs
While the above signs show mild TBI, the ones below require urgent medical help:
- Changes in sleep pattern resulting in more or less than usual sleep or insomnia
- Continuous headaches
- Continuous pain in the neck
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Easy distraction
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Getting lost easily
- Increased sensitivity to sounds or light
- Loss of sense of taste or smell
- Memory problems
- Moodiness and frequent mood swings
- Ringing inside the ears (Tinnitus)
- Slowness in thinking, acting, reading, or speaking
- Temporary or permanent amnesia
Any person who has experienced TBI with no symptoms should remain under medical observation. This should run for at least 24 hours since signs do not always appear immediately. If a person experiences any of the signs above a few days or weeks after the injury, they should see a doctor.
Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms in Children
Children are likely to present the same symptoms or signs. The only challenge is that they may not be able to explain how they feel. An infant could develop any of these signs from TBI:
- Alteration in sleeping patterns
- Changes in playing patterns
- Incessant crying or irritability
- Loss of balance
- Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities
- Loss of newly acquired skills
- Refusal to eat
- Unsteady walking
When you notice any of these, you should take the infant to see a physician immediately.
Traumatic Brain Injury in Sports
TBI is frequent in sports, especially sports requiring tackling and contact. Top examples include boxing, wrestling, martial arts, football, rugby, etc. Once it occurs, the athlete should stop playing until there is clearance from the doctor.
This is important even if the player does not pass out. Not every case of TBI results in loss of consciousness. When this injury repeats in quick succession, it can cause long-term effects on the brain.
Traumatic Brain Injury: Long Term Effects
Medical evidence shows that repeated TBI can result in long term health effects. Some of these include neurodegenerative and neurological disorders. One of the most common health challenges is dementia.
Many football players that show high levels of depression have histories of concussions and TBI.
Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment
In mild cases, symptoms disappear without a need for treatment. However, when the TBI occurs over and over, the results may become fatal or dangerous. This is the reason why we advise that you pipe low until the doctor gives you clearance.
Severe cases of TBI require hospitalization or, in some cases, intensive care. Emergency care will only stabilize the condition of the patient to avoid worse damage. It involves keeping the airway open, maintaining blood pressure, and providing oxygen and ventilation.
Some medications can be used in controlling symptoms. Let’s look at some of them below:
- Sedatives– To prevent excess muscle activity and agitation. This results in relief of pain.
- Pain relief – To ease pain, examples include opioids.
- Diuretics– Reduces the fluid in body tissues and increases urinal output. These are most administered via the veins.
- Anti-seizure medication– It is possible to experience seizures after experiencing TBI. With medication, you can prevent more brain damage.
- Coma-inducing medication– A person doesn’t need as much oxygen when in a coma. This is why doctors may induce a coma if the blood vessels aren’t supplying the brain as much as they should.
This is another form of traumatic brain injury treatment. It is needed in some cases such as:
- Removal of hematomas– Internal bleeding may result in blood clots in some areas of the brain. This adds pressure to the brain tissue. In such cases, emergency surgery is required to take out the clot and reduce pressure.
- Fixing skull fractures– When the skull fractures during the injury, it may affect the brain in several ways. As such, surgery is needed to fix the fracture. If the fracture is not pressing against the brain, there is no need for surgery.
- Opening up the skull– This is necessary to relieve pressure within the skull if other treatments show no positive results.
Long-term Treatment of TBI
In some cases, a person suffering from this condition needs treatment over time or rehabilitation. They may have to relearn talking, walking, and carrying out other activities.
Such therapy may take place at a hospital or specialized center. It usually involves occupational therapists, physical therapists, or any other type of therapist. The therapist needed depends on the kind of injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury: Recovery Tips
Recovery can take a long time in some cases. Here are some tips to aid quicker recovery:
- Stay away from activities that may result in further jolts or blows to the head.
- Stay in line with instructions provided by your physician.
- Don’t take any drugs not approved or prescribed by your physician.
- Stay away from regular activities like sports, driving, etc.
- Get as much rest as you can.
Prevention of Traumatic Brain Injury
Indeed, we may never be fully prepared for an injury. However, we can try as much as possible to protect ourselves and prevent such injuries. Here are some helpful tips:
- Use a seatbelt when in a moving car, driving or not.
- Avoid driving under the influence of alcohol.
- Use the proper restraint for your kids when inside a car.
- Provide grab bars inside bathrooms for older people.
- Take out any trip hazards like trailing wires, loose carpets, etc.
- Use shock-absorbing surfaces for play areas.
There you have it, all you need to know about traumatic brain injury. Did we leave anything out or do you have any questions? Drop them in the comments section.