TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY - Watsons Health

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY

Traumatic Brain Injury occurs when a sudden great force was appllied to the head or body and cause dysfunction of the brain. Aside from the physical disability that the injury can affect, this condition can also affect the cognitive health in a long-term. Some of the brain injury’s direct effect like unconsciousness, poor memory and trouble speaking may be permanent. This may also heighten the risk of having Alzeimer’s disease or dementia.

Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury for all ages. Older adults, usually age 75 and above, are high-risk of traumatic brain injury-related hospitalization and death due to falls. Other events that may lead to TBI are:

  • Vehicle-related collisions or accidents
  • Violence involving gunshot wounds or beating. Shaken baby syndrome is traumatic brain injury caused by the violent shaking of an infant that damages brain cells
  • Sports injuries
  • Explosive blasts and other combat injuries are more common on military personnel

Doctors classify traumatic brain injury as mild, moderate or severe. It depends on whether the injury causes unconsciousness, how long unconsciousness lasts and the severity of symptoms. Mild traumatic brain injury may be not life-threatening however it may have serious and long-lasting effects.

  • Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, also known as a concussion, may make you unconscious or not. Symptoms often appear at the time of the injury or soon after, but sometimes may not develop for days or weeks. Symptoms are usually temporary and clear up within hours, days or weeks, but they can last months or longer.
  • Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury causes unconsciousness lasting more than 30 minutes. The symptoms are similar to mild traumatic brain injury however more serious and longer-lasting.
  • Severe Traumatic Brain Injury makes you unconscious for more than 24 hours.

Symptoms of traumatic brain injury may include a wide-range of physical and cognitive effects depending upon the type of injury.

Mild traumatic brain injury may include symptoms like:

  • Loss of consciousness that may last for a few seconds or a few minutes
  • State of being dazed, confused or disoriented
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Loss of balance
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Blur vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Change in the ability to taste or smell
  • Changes in the mood (mood swings)
  • Feeling anxious or depresssed
  • Memory or concentration problems

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries may include the following symptoms:

  • Loss of Consciousness from Several Minutes to Hours
  • Persistent Headache or Headache that Worsens
  • Repeated Vomiting or Nausea
  • Convulsions or Seizures
  • Dilation of One or Both Pupils of the Eyes
  • Clear Fluids Draining from the Nose or Ears
  • Inability to Awaken from Sleep
  • Weakness or Numbness in Fingers and Toes
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Profound Confusion
  • Agitation, Combativeness or other Unusual Behavior
  • Slurred Speech
  • Coma and other Disorders of Consciousness

You may observe symptoms of TBI in children including:

  • Change in Eating or Nursing Habits
  • Persistent Crying and Inability to be Consoled
  • Unusual or Easy Irritability
  • Change in Ability to Pay Attention
  • Change in Sleep Habits
  • Sad or Depressed Mood
  • Loss of Interest in Favorite Toys or Activities

DIAGNOSIS

Doctors must be quick in assessing and diagnosing traumatic brain injury to avoid the condition to worsen and to avoid complications. He or she may immediately perform a Glasgow Coma Scale that initially checks the person’s movement and ability to follow direction. This is a 15-point test that enables the doctors or emergency personnel to assess the condition and severity of the brain injury. The higher the score mean less severe injuries.

To provide information on the extent of the damage, the doctor may order imaging tests such as CT scan or MRI. Doctors may insert a probe through the skull to monitor the pressure inside the skull due to the swelling of the brain tissues.

 

TREATMENT

For emergency cases of severe injuries, treatments may include ensuring that the person receives adequate oxygen and blood supply, blood pressure is maintained and monitored, and preventing any further injury to the head or neck.

Additional treatments in the hospital may  focus on minimizing secondary damage due to inflammation, bleeding or reduced oxygen supply to the brain, including:

  • Medications – Drugs thay may help limit secondary damage are:
    • Diuretics
    • Anti-seizure Drugs
    • Coma-inducing Drugs
  • Surgery – Surgery may be performed to address problems that cannot be treated with medications such as removing clotted blood in the brain and repairing skull fractures.
  • Rehabilitation – Rehabilitation is needed to improve the abilities (physical and cognitive) that has been damage because of the injury.They may need specialist to attend to these needs like Psychiatrist, Occupational and Physical therapist, Speech therapist, counselor or neuropsychologist.

 

PREVENTION

To prevent or lessen the risk for serious head injuries you may:

  • Avoid Drinking Alcohol especially when you are about to Drive
  • Use Seat Belts and Airbags when in a Vehicle
  • Use of Helmets when Riding a Bike, Skateboard, or Motorcycle

To prevent fall at home you may:

  • Install handrails in bathrooms
  • Put a nonslip mat in the bathtub or shower
  • Remove area rugs
  • Install handrails on both sides of staircases
  • Improve lighting in the home
  • Keep stairs and floors clear of clutter
  • Get regular vision checkups
  • Get regular exercise

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