Taking a severe blow to the head can lead to a traumatic brain injury. This is usually the case in car accidents, assaults, and falls. The impact on the head causes the brain to move around inside the skull.
This article will discuss traumatic brain injuries, their causes, and how to minimize your risk.
What Is Traumatic Brain Injury
It is a type of injury that affects the brain when a violent blow or jolt hits the head.
A minor traumatic brain injury can temporarily pose a brain cell problem.
However, a severe brain injury can be worse. It can involve torn tissues, bruising, or bleeding. This may be the case when an object pierces through the skull and into the brain tissue. This degree of injury can lead to permanent disability, long-term complications, or death.
What Are the Usual Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury
Did you know people aged 65 and older have a high risk of traumatic brain injury? That’s because falls rank as one of the prevalent causes of head injury in seniors.
For young adults, motor vehicle crashes are the most common cause of brain injuries. Other familiar sources of closed-head brain injuries include sports-related reasons. This is especially true in combat sports like boxing and mixed martial arts.
There is also a high incidence of traumatic brain injury among children as young as four—the reason is child abuse.
Other causes of brain injuries include getting hit by a shrapnel or bullet, baseball bat, or knife.
Risk Factors for Traumatic Brain Injury
Can you believe men are more likely to endure a traumatic brain injury than women?
What’s more, men tend to have more severe injuries than women.
In addition, people aged 65 and above have the most significant risk of dying from a brain injury.
A Traumatic Brain Injury Can Have Wide-Ranging Symptoms
Did you know the effects of a traumatic brain injury ranges from psychological to physical?
In a mild brain injury, the symptoms may not be apparent immediately or could take time to appear. The signs may develop days or weeks later.
Here are some of the symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury.
The physical symptoms include headache, nausea, fatigue, slurred speech, dizziness, vomiting, and vertigo.
Sensory problems include blurred vision, impaired smell, ear ringing, and sensitivity to sound or light.
A mild traumatic brain injury can also cause mental, behavioral, or cognitive issues. These are loss of consciousness, state of confusion or disorientation, memory problems, mood swings, depression, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping.
On the other hand, a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury can have more serious symptoms.
The physical symptoms include loss of consciousness that can last for hours. When the victim wakes up, he may experience persistent headaches that worsen over time. There may also be repeated vomiting, nausea, and seizures.
One should also check for dilation in the victim’s pupils or clear fluids draining from the ears or nose. There may be weakness or numbness in the extremities and loss of coordination.
Cognitive, behavioral, and mental signs include confusion, agitation, slurred speech, or combativeness. In severe cases, the victim may fall into a coma.
Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury in Infants and Young Children
There is an added challenge when the victims are infants or young children. One cannot expect them to communicate their symptoms properly.
So close monitoring and observation are imperative for these victims. Here are some of the symptoms to spot.
Changes in eating or feeding and unusual irritability are easy signs to spot. This may be accompanied by persistent crying.
For young children, look for loss of interest and inability to pay attention. There may also be changes in sleeping habits or depressed moods.
However, if there are seizures, please seek medical care immediately.
Diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury
Usually, traumatic brain injuries are emergency cases. In severe cases, one needs to call for help ASAP because the consequences can worsen by the minute without immediate treatment.
Glasgow Coma Scale is one of the commonly used tests to assess the severity of a brain injury. It follows 15 points that help doctors and emergency responders evaluate the situation’s gravity.
The Glasgow Coma Scale checks the victim’s eye and limb movement. It also scrutinizes the latter’s ability to follow directions.
Scoring high on the 15-point Glasgow Coma Scale means the brain injury is less severe.
Assessing the Victim’s Condition
If you encountered someone who got hit on the head and you suspect brain injury, as a result, it helps to ask these questions.
The answers you get from these questions can help assess the injury’s severity.
- What caused the injury?
- Did the victim lose consciousness, and for how long?
- Did the victim manifest signs of traumatic brain injury?
- Where on the head did the victim get struck?
- Aside from getting hit on the head, did the victim’s body get whipped around?
To help assess the injury, it helps to undergo imaging tests.
These two are the commonly used tests by medical specialists.
1. CT Scan (Computerized Tomography Scan)
A CT scan is a commonly used test in an emergency to evaluate a suspected traumatic brain injury.
Like an X-ray machine, this equipment creates detailed views of the brain. It’s ideal for visualizing bleeding, blood clots, bruised brain tissue, and swelling.
2. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Using powerful radio waves and magnets, an MRI provides complete visibility of what’s inside the brain. An MRI is usually used when the victim’s condition stabilizes.
Intracranial Pressure Monitor
A traumatic brain injury can cause swelling of the brain tissue. As the node builds up, so does the pressure inside the skull.
In addition to the two above mentioned tests, the doctors may also use an intracranial pressure monitor. This device evaluates the increasing pressure inside the skull, which, if not addressed, can cause further brain damage.
Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury
There are different levels of severity in a traumatic brain injury. And the treatment will vary based on its severity.
Let’s start with a mild traumatic brain injury.
Besides rest and OTC pain medication, a mild traumatic brain injury usually doesn’t require treatment. However, it helps to closely monitor if the symptoms are persistent or worsening.
For the first few days, the doctor may recommend relative rest—limiting physical, mental, and psychological activities, which may worsen the symptoms.
If everything goes well, the victim can return to his routine within a few days.
For moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, immediate emergency care is imperative.
One of the first concerns is to ensure the victim is breathing right. The doctors will also look into the latter’s blood supply, ensuring it’s adequate and maintaining ideal blood pressure.
Victims with severe brain injuries may also have other injuries in their bodies. So it’s vital to examine that too.
Here are some of the medications to mitigate brain damage. These meds can also reduce the occurrence of seizures and other critical signs of a traumatic brain injury.
Seizures can occur when the severity of the brain injury ranges from moderate to severe. These episodes are likely to happen during the first week following the injury. To help with seizures, doctors may prescribe anti-seizure drugs to mitigate brain damage.
In addition to reducing the fluid in the muscles, doctors may prescribe diuretics. It also helps alleviate the pressure inside the skull.
Sometimes the doctors may advise putting the victim into a temporary coma to allow the damaged brain to require less oxygen.
Coma-inducing drugs are beneficial when the blood vessels can no longer supply adequate oxygen and nutrients to the brain cells.
Mitigating Brain Damage Through Surgery
Surgery may be the last resort to mitigate the damage to the brain tissues. This option can address the following issues.
1. Remove hematomas
Whether the bleeding is inside the brain or outside, this may result in blood clots or hematoma buildup. These blood clots add pressure inside the skull and further damage the affected brain tissues.
2. Fix skull fractures
To repair fractures in the skull, the doctors may recommend surgery.
3. Address the bleeding in the brain
Bleeding is never a good sign. So if your physical injuries also included internal bleeding, it would help to undergo surgery to address this problem.
4. Relieving the pressure in the skull
Creating an opening in the skull can help release the pressure. This procedure may accompany a process to drain accumulated cerebrospinal fluid.
In addition to relieving the pressure, this process also makes enough room for the swollen brain tissues.
Rehabilitation to Relearn the Basic Skills
People suffering from severe traumatic brain injury may lose their ability to perform basic skills like talking or walking.
The goal of rehabilitation is to help the victim relearn rudimentary abilities.
Rehabilitation may come from physical therapy, speech therapy, neuropsychology, and physiatry.
The rehabilitative process typically starts in the hospital but continues in a rehabilitation facility.
Are you looking for a personal injury attorney to help you pursue your claim?