How Do I Know If I am Suffering Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) may require emergency care. A TBI occurs when the brain experiences an abrupt, physical attack. It is a general term used to describe a wide range of brain injuries. Traumatic injuries to the brain are also a common cause of disability or death.
Different Types of Brain Damage
Damage to the brain may be focal, which means that it happens in just one area. It can also be diffuse, and this type of damage occurs in multiple areas of the brain. Brain injuries vary in degrees of severity too. For instance, a person may experience a mild concussion or a serious injury that causes him or her to slip into a coma or die.
Injuries to the brain may be closed. When this happens, there is damage to the brain that is non-penetrating, so there is no break within the skull. This type of brain injury happens when the person’s head experiences a quick forward or backward shift that causes the brain to shake inside its bony structure, resulting in the brain tissue and blood vessels becoming bruised or torn.
Most closed brain injuries are the result of car accidents and falls, but sports are starting to be a bigger cause of them than they used to be. If someone shakes a baby hard, the action may cause this type of injury.
People may also experience penetrating brain injuries. This type of injury occurs when something penetrates the skull. For instance, a bullet entering the head is a penetrating brain injury.
Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is another type of injury, one that causes people to slip into a coma. It can also damage many different areas of the brain. When someone experiences this type of brain injury, the brain’s axons, which are the long nerve fibers that connect, are torn. The brain changes caused by DAI are often microscopic, and they may not be obvious on imaging scans.
What are the Symptoms of Minor TBI and Concussions?
In some cases, symptoms of minor TBI and concussions may develop immediately. Other symptoms may not show up for a few hours or several days following the injury. The symptoms of brain injuries and concussions usually get better with time. In fact, most people who experience minor brain injuries generally feel better in a few weeks.
The symptoms of minor traumatic injuries to the brain and concussions may impact a person’s physical condition, emotional state, how he or she thinks and even sleeps. Symptoms are often unique to the person. Also, they can change as the person recovers. For instance, someone with a brain injury may initially experience headaches and nausea. Then, after a week or two, they may be more emotional or have sleep issues.
Physical symptoms involve light or noise sensitivity, balance problems, dizziness and issues with fatigue. Emotional problems associated with brain trauma consist of anxiety, irritability and feelings of sadness while thinking symptoms include feeling groggy, memory problems and attention issues. If a person struggles with sleep, he or she may sleep more than usual, have trouble going to sleep or sleep less than what’s normal for them.
Keep in mind that the symptoms of this type of mild brain injury can be challenging to determine because other health issues present with similar symptoms. A person may not believe that they are experiencing problems. Along with this, they may not be able to see how their symptoms are causing problems with their daily life. Mild symptoms may also be overlooked by the person with the brain injury, their family and even medical providers.
If you or someone you love has experienced a traumatic injury to the brain, then you may need to contact a personal injury attorney. He or she can help you gain compensation for medical expenses or lost wages.
When a Person Should Seek Emergency Medical Help
In adults with traumatic brain injuries, the danger signs include:
- A headache that worsens and won’t relent
- General weakness, convulsions, seizures or numbness
- Excessive vomiting
- Unusual behavior or speech problems
- One pupil that’s bigger than the other one
- A loss of consciousness
- The inability to recognize people or places
In children, signs that something is seriously wrong following brain trauma include:
- Any of the same symptoms that adults experience
- Continuous crying
- Refusing to nurse or eat
About Primary and Secondary Brain Injuries
A primary brain injury is an abrupt and acute brain injury that medical professionals basically consider complete when it happens. This occurs at the time of a fall, vehicle accident or gunshot wound.
Secondary brain injuries are the changes that happen during the later hours or days following the primary brain injury. They include a full cycle of cellular, blood vessel, tissue or chemical changes that happen in the brain. They may cause additional damage to the brain tissue.
Treatments for Brain Injuries
The treatment that a doctor may prescribe for a traumatic injury will depend on the injury’s severity. For instance, a mild traumatic brain injury can often be treated with rest and over-the-counter pain medications formulated to treat headaches.
Any person with a head injury should be monitored at home to watch for symptoms that are new, persistent or getting worse. The patient will likely have follow-up visits with his or her doctor.
With mild brain traumas, medical professionals will offer guidance on when it is safe for the injured person to return to work, school or regular activities. Most doctors advise head injury patients to treat the problem with relative rest, which means that they’ll need to limit physical and mental activities.
If a brain trauma is severe, then emergency care may be the required course of treatment. Emergency care may include confirming that the injured person is able to take in enough oxygen and has the proper amount of blood flow. Treatment may also include preventing additional damage to the head.
There are medications that are formulated to decrease secondary brain damage. These medications include:
- Anti-seizure drugs
- Coma-inducing drugs
- Diuretic drugs
Anti-seizure drugs are prescribed to people who have experienced a moderate to severe brain injury caused by trauma and are at risk of a seizure happening following the first week after the injury. These types of drugs are used to prevent additional brain damage that a seizure may cause.
Coma-inducing drugs are used to place injured people into temporary comas. Medical experts prescribe them because comatose brains require less oxygen to work. Putting a brain injury patient into a coma is especially helpful when the injury is causing the brain’s blood vessels to become compressed. When this happens, the vessels are not able to give the brain cells the amount of oxygen and nutrients that they need.
Diuretics are medications that decrease the amount of fluid that’s in the tissues. They also increase the amount of urine that a body is generating. These drugs are delivered to brain injury patients intravenously, and they work to decrease the amount of pressure that may be developing inside the brain.
Surgery is another possible treatment for people with brain injuries. A medical professional may order surgery to decrease additional brain tissue damage. It can also address medical problems like blood clots, skull fractures and bleeding in the brain.
When a person suffers from blood clots in the brain, this puts dangerous pressure on the brain. They can also damage brain tissue. If the person received a skull fracture, then surgery may be needed to remove skull pieces from the brain. If there is bleeding in the brain, then surgery may be needed to stop it.
Brain Injury Rehab
If you or someone you love experiences a brain injury, then rehab will likely be needed to reacquire basic skills like talking or walking.
This type of rehab typically starts in the hospital and continues after the patient is sent to an inpatient rehab facility or moved to a residential treatment unit. It can also be provided through outpatient care. The type of rehab needed and the duration of it varies based on how severe the brain injury was and the brain area that experienced the injury. You may need to file a personal injury claim to pay for rehabilitation since it can be lengthy and expensive.
Rehab may involve meeting with a physiatrist. This is a physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehab. He or she will manage the full rehab process.
A person with a brain injury may also need to meet with an occupational therapist to relearn everyday skills. The patient may need to see a physical therapist too. This type of medical professional helps recovering brain injury patients regain general mobility and movement patterns.
If the brain injury resulted in speech or language problems, then the patient will need to work with a speech and language therapist.
Personal Injury Attorney
A TBI takes time to heal, which means that the wounded person may need to file a personal injury claim if someone else was at fault. If you are facing extensive medical bills and time away from work, then be sure to contact a personal injury attorney.