Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue. A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes. A person with a moderate or severe TBI may also have repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, slurred speech, and weakness or numbness in the extremities
Is There Any Treatment?
Anyone with signs of moderate or severe TBI should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Because little can be done to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma, medical personnel try to stabilize an individual with TBI and focus on preventing further injury. Primary concerns include insuring proper oxygen supply to the brain and the rest of the body, maintaining adequate blood flow, and controlling blood pressure.
Imaging tests such as CT and MR imaging help in determining the diagnosis and prognosis of a TBI patient. Moderately to severely injured patients receive rehabilitation that involves individually tailored treatment programs in the areas of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, physical medicine, psychology/psychiatry, and social support.
What is the Prognosis?
Approximately half of severely head-injured patients will need surgery to remove or repair ruptured blood vessels or bruised brain tissue. Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the individual. Some common disabilities include problems with cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning), sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication (talking and understanding), and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness).
What Can You Do?