Traumatic Brain Injury

April 2, 2017

Falls, football tackles, car accidents, etc. are known to cause head injuries. Anyone of any age can get a head injury that may also damage the brain.

Sudden head movements can make the brain twist in the skull and injure (or stretch) brain cells, which will alter the chemical makeup in the brain. This occurrence is known as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

While children and parents are gearing up for fall school sports activities, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) is studying TBI and promoting the discovery of innovative treatment options.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Most TBI incidents happen after the head receives a jolt, blow, bump or explosive blast to the head. Sometimes, TBI comes from an existing head injury that changes brain function. Keep in mind that not all hits to the head will cause TBI. Sometimes, the occurrence is mild (like when people are somewhat disoriented); but in other instances, the damage is severe (with serious thinking and behavioral issues or change in consciousness or mental state. A concussion is a mild type of TBI.

In 2010, an estimated 2.5 million medical emergency room visits involved TBI. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) states that almost 30% of all deaths related to injuries in the United States come from TBI.

TBI symptoms are confusion, blurred vision, headache and behavioral changes. Moderate and severe TBI are also accompanied by slurred speech, nausea or vomiting, arms or legs weakness and thinking problems. (Please refer to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke for more information concerning TBI symptoms.)

Head injuries must be diagnosed via medical examination that will entail a neurological exam. Neurological exams included an examination of a person’s motor function, thinking, coordination, reflexes and sensory function.

To date, there is no universal diagnostic standard to diagnose TBI because some forms are harder to diagnose than others. However, there are some guidelines for TBI diagnostics that are established by the American College of Rehabilitation Medicine, the CDC and other companies.

Computerized tomography scans (“CT” scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests and other imaging tests are not used to diagnose TBI but can rule out other conditions from the brain injury that may be fatal (like bleeding or other conditions that may require prompt medical attention).

There are short- and long-term effects on mental abilities after having a TBI. A first-time, mild TBI may only require simple rest for a short time span. Moderate and severe cases may require therapy (occupational, physical or psychiatric) and other treatments.