A hard jolt or a violent blow to your body or head may cause a traumatic brain injury. An object that hits the brain tissue, such as a bullet or iron rod, can shatter a piece of the skull and ultimately lead to an injury. It can occur in both children and adults.
As per the severity of the injury, your brain cells may be affected temporarily or permanently. It can cause torn tissues, bleeding, bruising, and other potential damage to your brain. These injuries can give a person long-term health complications and difficulties.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A Traumatic Brain Injury occurs if an external mechanical force is applied to your head. It is a non-degenerative and non-congenital injury that can leave you with permanent or temporary damage for your whole life, depending upon the intensity of the external force.
A severe injury may affect your physical, cognitive, and psychosocial functions, which may alter or even diminish the entire working of your body. Head injuries can be open or a closed one; while closed injury does not break your skull, an open injury may break the scalp, entering the brain and leading towards a lethal repercussion.
It is difficult to diagnose the intensity of a head injury by just looking at it. It is important to get all kinds of head injuries treated by a doctor, as any injury to your head, skull, scalp, or brain can be dangerous. You may witness a mild bump, bruise, wound, or even a fracture, depending on the severity of your head injury.
What are the Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging physical as well as psychological effects. While some signs or symptoms may show immediately after the trauma, others may show days or weeks afterwards.
Mild traumatic brain injury
The symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Problems with speech
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Loss of balance or dizziness
- Sensitivity to sound or light
- Sensory issues like ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, blurred vision, or changes in your ability to smell
Cognitive, behavioral or mental symptoms
- State of being confused, dazed or disoriented but no loss of consciousness
- Loss of consciousness for few seconds to few minutes
- concentration or memory problems
- Mood swings or changes in the mood
- Feeling anxious or depressed
- Sleeping more than usual
- Difficulty sleeping
Moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injuries
Moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injuries include any of the symptoms of a mild injury. These symptoms may appear within the first few hours to days after the head injury:
- Loss of consciousness from some minutes to few hours
- Inability to wake up from sleep
- Headache that worsens or persistent headache or
- Dilation of one or both pupils of your eyes
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Seizures or convulsions
- Clear fluids draining from ears and nose
- Numbness or weakness in fingers and toes
- Loss of coordination
Cognitive or mental symptoms
- Combativeness, agitation or other unusual behavior
- Profound confusion
- Slurred speech
- Coma and other disorders of consciousness
What are the Causes of a Traumatic Brain Injury?
There are several causes of head injury, and some of the most common causes are:
- Violence: Domestic violence, abuse, gunshots, and other assaults can result in serious brain injuries.
- Falls: Slipping on the stairs and falling from the ladder, in the bathroom, or hitting the head on any hard surface can cause traumatic brain injuries.
- Sports injuries from athletic activities: Sports and athletic activities — such as boxing, football, baseball, soccer, baseball, lacrosse, skateboarding, hockey, or any high-intensity activity — in which body balancing plays an important role can cause you to fall and you can suffer from a head injury.
- Vehicle-related accidents: Being involved in road accidents or being hit by a vehicle can cause you a traumatic brain or head injury.
When to See the Doctor for a Traumatic Brain Injury?
If you have been hit on your head, be it mildly or severely, you should seek immediate medical emergency care. Also, check for the signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury relating to the event which may have led to it.
Your injury can be mild, moderate, or severe, and accordingly, it will affect the functioning of your brain. It is better to get medical treatment for even a mild brain injury because if not today, you may have its repercussions later.
How to Prevent a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Since a head injury may occur for many reasons, you can avoid it by being careful. Protect your head during the time of physical activities.
- Wear a helmet when you go for a ride on a two-wheeler.
- Wear proper athletic gear while playing sports.
- Climb down from the ladder carefully and by taking proper support on the ladder wall or handle.
- Walk carefully on the streets, follow the rules.
What are the Treatments Available for a Traumatic Brain Injury?
The treatment of a brain injury wholly and solely depends on the intensity and severity of the injury.
- Mild Injury
A mild traumatic brain injury may not require any treatment apart from rest and pain relievers to treat any headache. But it is still important to monitor it closely, accompanied by a visit to the general physician. Your doctor will be the best judge to detect the new or persistent symptoms. You may need follow-up visits till complete recovery.
- Moderate Injury
A moderate head injury may require immediate emergency care, as it is important to make sure that the person has enough oxygen supply to the brain, the blood pressure is stable, and steps are taken to prevent any further head or even neck injury.
The ones who have suffered from a moderate head injury may need additional treatment in an ICU so that there are decreased chances of secondary brain damage because of the inflammation.
- Severe Injury
Severe injury may require surgery. This condition will occur when there is any fracture, open wound, broken skull bones, or an injury that can be life-threatening. In such an emergency, it is important to minimize additional damage to your brain tissues. Surgery can address these issues.
Coping up with a traumatic brain injury can be a difficult situation, and it comes with many complications. It may be a life-threatening injury or may affect daily activities and even your relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can a person return to a normal lifestyle after suffering from a head injury?
Yes, If a traumatic brain injury is detected, diagnosed, monitored, and treated at the right time, a person can return to leading a normal, independent lifestyle.
Is a concussion similar to a brain injury?
In some cases, concussive actions can look like a mild brain injury, but it is temporary. A head injury can give you other symptoms apart from concussions and will also depend on whether the injury is mild, moderate or severe — which can only be detected if you consult your doctor as soon as the injury occurs.
When can a person return to work after suffering from a head injury?
Depending upon the severity of the injury and recovery period needed, an individual can return to work as soon as they get a green signal from their doctor.