Traumatic brain injury (TBI) results mainly because of a violent and sudden jolt or damage to the brain. This form of acquired injury occurs when the head hits strongly with an object. Some causes of traumatic brain injury include road accidents, sports injuries, falls at home or office, military actions, gunshot wounds, and assaults.
Traumatic brain injury has both physical and psychological effects. The severity of symptoms depends on the location and type of injury. The signs and symptoms of injury may appear immediately after the traumatic incident or may develop later. Depending on the extent of brain damage, traumatic brain injury symptoms can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe.
- Mild traumatic brain injury symptoms: It includes headache, confusion, disorientation, loss, or no loss of consciousness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, loss of balance, dizziness, drowsiness. Mild traumatic injury may lead to problems with sleep, concentration, and speech. It can also cause blurred vision, sensitivity towards sound or light, ringing in the ears, unpleasant taste in the mouth, changes in the ability to smell.
- Moderate traumatic brain injury symptoms: In moderate cases, the injury causes loss of consciousness that lasts over 30 minutes but less than 24 hours. Some symptoms of moderate traumatic brain injury are very similar to mild injury but are severe and longer-lasting. Other symptoms include persistent headache, profound confusion.
- Severe traumatic brain injury symptoms: In severe traumatic brain injury, the patient remains unconscious for over 24 hours. Other symptoms include dilated pupils, convulsions, seizures, repeated vomiting, agitation, slurred speech, weakness, or numbness in the arms, legs, hands, feet, loss of coordination, and even coma.
Traumatic brain injury symptoms in children
Infants and young children may not communicate headaches, confusion, and sensory problems. It is important to observe other symptoms like change in nursing or eating habits, unusual irritability, persistent crying, seizures, loss of interest in favorite toys or activities, unsteady walking, and change in sleep habits.
Traumatic brain injury treatment
If you suspect any kind of brain injury, regardless of severity, you should seek the help of a qualified medical professional. In mild brain injury, symptoms usually go away with rest and do not need any treatment. However, repeated mild injuries are dangerous. Moderate and severe cases are an emergency and require hospitalization. In the emergency care unit, the medical personnel aim to stabilize the condition. The primary treatment involves providing oxygen and ventilation and maintaining blood pressure. It prevents further worsening of brain damage.
Imaging tests are carried out to determine the diagnosis and prognosis of a patient. The doctor can run blood tests to evaluate traumatic brain injury. Some patients with mild-to-moderate injuries may have to undergo skull and neck X-rays. These tests help to check for any bone fractures or spinal injury and instability. In moderate-to-severe cases, a computed tomography (CT) scan is generally needed. Certain medications may provide pain relief and control symptoms.
- Sedatives: In some cases, sedation is offered to prevent agitation and excess muscle activity. It also helps with pain relief.
- Antibiotics: All necessary precautions are taken to prevent infection; however, the risk is always present. If the doctor suspects an infection, then samples are sent to the laboratory for analysis. In case an infection is detected, it is treated with antibiotics.
- Diuretics: They increase urine output and decrease the amount of fluid in tissue.
- Anti-seizure medication: It aids in preventing further brain damage that may result from a seizure.
- Coma-inducers: A person needs less oxygen during coma. In some exceptional cases, coma may be deliberately induced if the blood vessels cannot supply adequate oxygen and food to the brain.
Surgery:In severe brain damage because of injury, surgery may be needed to remove a hematoma or to repair a skull fracture. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to create an opening in the skull to relieve pressure.
Recovery relies on the regeneration and repair of nerve cells and the brain’s plasticity. But it also depends on the patient’s willingness to work hard to relearn lost skills. Severe traumatic brain injuries leave long-lasting effects, and the patient may have to receive rehabilitation. It involves customized treatment programs. The individually tailored program may include physical therapy, speech/language therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, psychiatry, and social support.