What is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have devastating consequences for you and your family. One moment, everything is fine, and the next, your family’s life can be seriously altered. If you or one of your family members is facing a traumatic brain injury, you probably want to educate yourself on what has happened and how to get them help. On this page, you will find all of the information that you need, from understanding what TBI is, establishing common causes and symptoms, determining effects and treatment, and finally, establishing the best way to get your loved one help.

Definition and Common Causes

TBI is injury to the brain caused by a sudden, violent blow to either the body generally or the head directly. TBI can also be caused by any object that punctures brain tissue. This might include internal issues, such as pieces of a broken skull, or outside forces, such as a bullet.

Traumatic brain injuries can range from mild to severe. Mild TBI can be temporary, but it can also have serious effects. But in more serious cases, TBI can cause long-lasting issues in the brain, such as bleeding, torn tissue, bruising, and more. Complications can even lead to death.

The majority of traumatic brain injuries occur as a result of car accidents. Whether a passenger is thrown from a car or something punctures the car, these issues and others can cause brain trauma. Other common causes of TBI include issues with firearms or falls. In some cases, the cause of a TBI can also cause a spinal cord injury, which I will cover in greater detail on another page.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

If you suspect that a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, it is important to take them to a doctor as soon as possible. A doctor can run tests and establish symptoms to make a proper diagnosis.

When it comes to mild TBI, some common symptoms might include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss
  • Blurred vision or other vision issues
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Nausea

A whole range of symptoms might be apparent in the event of severe TBI. More serious symptoms in the case of severe TBI are:

  • All of the symptoms mentioned above
  • Slurred speech
  • Issues reading or writing
  • Sensory issues, such as diminished or complete loss of taste, touch, sight, hearing, smell
  • Paralysis
  • Serious, chronic pain

A doctor should look out for any or all of these symptoms when diagnosing a brain injury. Doctors might also rely on tests to help determine TBI. One common testing system is the Glasglow Coma Scale. This scale measures many of the symptoms mentioned above. It is broken into three sections to test a few different types of response, including motor response, verbal response, and eye opening response. Different levels of responsiveness correlate to a different number of points that a doctor will note. The more points a person scores on the test, the more favorable their outcome is. Low scores on the test mean a poor prognosis, including going into a coma or even death.

Effects of TBI

As you have probably already gathered from this information, TBI can be mild or severe. Mild cases generally have a favorable outcome, but it can still have lasting effects. If a person has mild TBI, it generally means that they did not lose consciousness after their accident, or lost consciousness for less than 30 minutes. Despite the “mild” label, they could face serious issues such as memory loss, difficulty speaking, difficulty seeing, or impaired motor skills.

Severe TBI is obviously more serious. If a person loses consciousness for more than 30 minutes, their case is generally considered severe. Severe TBI could cause death or a vegetative state. Even if a person regains consciousness, they will likely face issues such as emotional problem, diminished cognitive ability, motor skill issues, and speech issues.

Treatment After Injury

Treatment for TBI can vary, although there are some things that should always occur. Initial treatment seeks to properly diagnose the severity of the trauma and stabilize the victim. At this point, surgery may be necessary to repair brain damage. Initial treatment should be robust, since the brain impacts all human function. A psychologist should examine the patient, as well as a doctor and a surgeon.

After the initial treatment, acute treatment might be necessary. Acute treatment aims to prevent any additional injury to the patient and preserve their remaining quality of life. This includes constantly watching the patient, providing medication, and in severe cases, supporting their ability to breathe.

If a patient begins to recover, they may need rehabilitative treatment. This treatment might include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Work with a psychologist
  • Management of pain

Getting Help

Establishing the correct treatment plan is important in making sure that your loved one gets the help that they need during this difficult time. This should be your primary concern if your loved one sustained a traumatic brain injury.

In addition, it is important to seek help for you and the rest of your family. A traumatic brain injury can have severe consequences for a whole family. Overcoming the traumatic event can be difficult for those close to the victim. In addition, it is very difficult for families to become caretakers, especially in serious situations. This will be a lifelong process, and it will have financial and emotional consequences for your family. If your loved one sustained a TBI, please contact my office. We can put you in touch with those who can help and provide additional resources.  

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