Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) involves a severe blow or injury to the head that results in brain damage. While not all head injuries result in brain damage, those that do can bruise the brain, tear nerve fibers or cause internal bleeding. Most TBIs occur as a result of a fall, motor vehicle accident, direct blow or assault.
Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury
The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may be subtle, and may not appear until days or weeks after the injury has occurred. Some of the most common symptoms of a TBI include:
- Persistent headache or neck pain
- Memory problems
- Getting easily confused
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Blurred vision
- Increased sensitivity to light
It is important for patients to seek medical attention if these symptoms become apparent so that prompt treatment can be performed and permanent damage can be minimized.
Treatment for a traumatic brain injury depends on the severity of the injury, but may simply involving resting and taking over-the-counter pain relievers to treat mild symptoms. Patients with more severe injuries may require emergency care to minimize the risk of permanent brain damage. Pressure in the brain tends to increase after a brain injury, which can cause damage as certain structures expand within a confined space.
Depending on the extent of your injury, your doctor may prescribe medications such as diuretics, anti-seizure drugs or coma-inducing drugs to relieve pressure on the brain and allow swelling to reduce. Surgery may be required in some cases to remove blood clots trapped in the skull, repair skull fractures or, in severe cases, create an opening in the skull to relieve pressure when all other methods have failed.
Recovery from a Traumatic Brain Injury
Most patients will require rehabilitation after a traumatic brain injury, which may include learning how to walk or talk again, as well as regaining other lost skills. Rehabilitation aims to help patients restore their abilities to function at home and in their community.
In many cases, significant brain damage cannot be reversed and will dramatically affect a person’s life. A strong support system can help patients cope with these changes physically, cognitively and emotionally.