Kenneth Goldblatt | October 20, 2018 | Personal Injury
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a form of acquired brain injury, occurring when a sudden impact causes damage to the tissues of the brain. TBI can happen from a fall, a blow, or an intrusion into the brain by a foreign object.
What are the Signs of TBI?
Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain, says the NIH. 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 TBI may include:
- blurred vision
- ringing in the ears
- bad taste in the mouth
- fatigue or lethargy
- a change in sleep patterns
- behavioral or mood changes
- trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking
A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms, but may also have:
- a headache that gets worse or does not go away
- repeated vomiting or nausea
- convulsions or seizures
- an inability to awaken from sleep
- dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- slurred speech
- weakness or numbness in the extremities
- loss of coordination
- increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
What is the treatment for TBI?
Anyone who suspects that they have suffered a traumatic brain injury 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 help in determining the diagnosis and prognosis of a TBI patient.
Patients with mild to moderate injuries may undergo X-rays to check for bone fractures or spinal instability. For moderate to severe cases, the imaging test is a computed tomography (CT) scan. Moderately to severely injured patients may receive an individually tailored program of rehabilitation that involves physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, physiatry (physical medicine), psychology/psychiatry, and social support.*
What is the prognosis?
The NIH reports that approximately half of all severely injured TBI patients will need surgery to remove or repair hematomas (ruptured blood vessels) or contusions (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 (expression and understanding), and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness). More serious head injuries may result in stupor, an unresponsive state, but one in which an individual can be aroused briefly by a strong stimulus, such as sharp pain; coma, a state in which an individual is totally unconscious, unresponsive, unaware, and unarousable; vegetative state, in which an individual is unconscious and unaware of his or her surroundings, but continues to have a sleep-wake cycle and periods of alertness; and a persistent vegetative state (PVS), in which an individual stays in a vegetative state for more than a month.