A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a severe brain dysfunction caused by an outside force, usually a violent blow to the head or jolt to the body. It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans will sustain a traumatic brain injury every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Traumatic brain injuries most often occur as a result of a sports injury or car accident. More serious traumatic brain injuries can result in bruising, bleeding, torn tissues, and other damage to the brain. These wounds may result in long-term complications, even death.
Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries may have extensive physical and psychological effects, with cases ranging from mild to moderate, all the way to severe. Some signs and symptoms may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later. It is always best practice to monitor any possible physical and / or mental symptoms following a significant injury to the head. Below are symptoms to watch for.
- Physical Symptoms
- Loss of coordination
- Weakness or numbness in fingers/toes
- Unable to fully awaken from sleep
- Fluids draining from the nose/ears
- Dilation of pupils
- Convulsions or seizures
- Repeated vomiting/nausea
- Persistent headache
- Loss of consciousness
- Cognitive/Mental Symptoms
- Extreme confusion
- Agitation or unusual behavior
- Extreme mood swings
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty sleeping
When Should you Visit the Doctor?
It is always best to see a doctor if a child has received any notable blow to the head. For everyone else, please seek emergency medical care if you are experiencing any of the physical or mental symptoms mentioned above resulting from an injury to the head.
In most instances, time is critical. Many experts use the term “golden hours” when referring to treatment administered during the initial hours after an injury, plus the 24 to 48 hours of aftercare. The golden hour can determine whether a patient survives their injury or what long-term function or disability issues they may have. It is because of this that early diagnosis, monitoring, and treatment will improve the chances of a more favorable outcome.
Causes of a Traumatic Brain Injury
There are countless ways to sustain a TBI, but the most common events are falls. Falls from ladders, down the stairs, or in the bathroom. The second most common cause of a TBI is vehicle-related collisions. This is a huge reason why it is so important to wear seatbelts while in vehicles and helmets when riding a motorcycle or bicycle.
There has also been a rise of traumatic brain injuries in sports. This is mainly a result of many high-impact and extreme sports. These are especially common in youth. Lastly, violence is a recurrent component in traumatic brain injuries. Gunshot wounds, domestic violence, and other assaults are prime examples.
If you or a loved one has experienced a traumatic brain injury, please contact our office immediately for a comprehensive exam and evaluation.