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Traumatic Brain Injury Overview and Guide

People may develop a traumatic brain injury as a result of a sudden blow to the head which causes the brain to collide with the skull causing nerve fibers and tissue to be damaged. Traumatic brain injury is usually the result of blunt force trauma to the head that can be caused by bullets or a broken or shattered piece of the skull entering into the brain tissue as a result of the trauma. Traumatic brain injury can be mild to severe depending on which part of the brain is damaged and how bad that damage is.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

The brain is the life force for all of an individuals movements, behaviors and thought processes as well as feeling. A traumatic brain injury can result in a range of physical effects as well as various psychological effects depending on the extent and severity of the traumatic brain injury. When the brain tissue is injured it will swell similar to other tissues of the body and this poses an additional risk of pressure that can be placed on various parts of the brain as a result of the traumatic brain injury.

The symptoms of traumatic brain injury range from mild to moderate to severe depending on the extent of the trauma. Mild traumatic brain injury symptoms include being unconscious for a brief period of time, having amnesia or a loss of memory of the events that happened just before the injury or just after and being confused. Headache may also be present in mild traumatic brain injury as is dizziness and a possible loss of balance.

Severe symptoms of traumatic brain injury include headache that just won’t go away, vomiting or nausea and sometimes convulsions or seizures. The pupils of one or both eyes may become dilated and the individual may be profoundly confused about what is going on or what happened. People who suffer from traumatic brain injury may not wake up from a sleep, they may have weakness or numbness in their limbs and they may also have slurred speech.

For children, recognizing the symptoms of traumatic brain injury may be more difficult because children are not able to communicate as effectively as adults. Children may not be able to describe a headache or sensory problems and they are likely not to understand confusion or other related symptoms of traumatic brain injury. Some of the most easily recognizable symptoms of traumatic brain injury in a child include a refusal to eat, a listless appearance accompanied by crankiness, altered sleep patterns and school performance and a loss of interest in favorite toys or fun things to do.

Treatments for Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury can be treated in a number of ways depending on the severity of the injury. Most mild traumatic brain injuries will not require treatment and can be healed with simple rest. Medications such as aspirin, Aleve or Tylenol may be taken to reduce headache or pain associated with a traumatic brain injury that is mild but for severe traumatic brain injuries hospitalization and intensive care may be necessary.

The emergency care provided by doctors will focus on preventing a traumatic brain injury from becoming worse by reducing the pressure that is placed as a result of swelling of the brain tissue. This type of treatment for traumatic brain injury focuses on preventing the brain damage from getting any worse than it already is. Additionally, medications, therapy or surgery may be necessary to treat traumatic brain injury.

Doctors may prescribe diuretics that can help to reduce the amount of fluid in the tissues (including the brain) in order to prevent further swelling of the brain. Anti seizure or coma inducing drugs may also be used to treat traumatic brain injury. Anti seizure drugs can help to reduce the risk of seizure during the first week following a traumatic brain injury during which time the patient is at the highest risk of seizing and causing additional damage to the brain. Coma inducing drugs may also be used to place a person into a temporary coma in order to reduce the oxygen levels to the brain and allow for healing of the damage.

Therapeutic treatments for traumatic brain injury may include rehabilitation such as physical therapy or occupational therapy as well as speech therapy. The overall goal of traumatic brain injury therapies are to allow the individual to relearn basic skills such as walking and talking and restore function and independence for the individual. Most therapy for traumatic brain injury will start in the hospital with a physical therapist and will then be continued on a long term basis at rehabilitation centers. Such outpatient therapy may last weeks, months or even years following the traumatic brain injury.

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