Traumatic Brain Injury – Types, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
India has the highest rate of head injury in the world. Every year, more than 10,00,000 people suffer from serious head injuries, and more than 1,00,000 die. Every 1 out of 6 victims dies.
Any time you get a blow to your head or suffer an injury/accident where an object goes through your brain tissue, it can cause a traumatic brain injury, changing how your brain works.
While mild traumatic brain injury usually affects your brain cells temporarily, symptoms like bruising, bleeding, and torn tissues can indicate a more serious injury.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injury
TBI can be of different types and grades:
- Mild Concussion (mTBI): This is the most common type of TBI, and can cause a loss of consciousness for less than 30 minutes and confusion for about one day.
- Moderate TBI: This can cause loss of consciousness for over 30 minutes but less than one day, and confusion for up to one week.
- Severe TBI: This can cause loss of consciousness for more than one full day, and they show changes on head CT or brain MRI.
- Uncomplicated TBI: In this, the head CT or brain MRI is normal.
- Complicated TBI: In this, the head CT or brain MRI show changes, like bleeding.
- Closed: When a blow to your head does not penetrate your skull, the impact can still cause a TBI and make your brain swell up.
- Open: When a blow to your head does penetrate your skull, like from a knife or a bullet that goes through your skull, it damages brain tissue.
- Nontraumatic: Even a non-traumatic event can cause brain injury. This could be a stroke, seizure, choking, or almost drowning depriving the brain of oxygen.
Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury
Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may show up immediately or be delayed, showing up days or weeks later, and manifesting in physical, sensory, and cognitive forms.
Symptoms of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
A mild traumatic brain injury can happen from a mild blow to the head and can cause temporary cognitive symptoms without loss of consciousness, but it still warrants a trip to the doctor. This brain injury won’t damage your brain permanently.
- Nausea/ Vomiting
- Fatigue/ Drowsiness
- Speech problems
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in ears
- Bad taste in mouth
- Changes in the ability to smell
- Loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes
- Feeling confused or disoriented
- Problem remembering or concentrating
- Mood swings
- Feeling depressed or anxious
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual
Symptoms of Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
- Loss of consciousness for minutes or hours
- Constant headache
- Recurrent nausea or vomiting
- Loss of coordination
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilated pupils (one or both)
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Inability to wake up
- Clear fluids from the nose or ears
- Sensitivity to light and smell
- Breathing problems
- Difficulty swallowing
- Droopy eyelid or facial weakness
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Profound confusion
- Slurred speech
- Agitation, aggression, or other unusual behavior
Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury in Children
Infants and young children are easily susceptible to traumatic brain injuries. When they suffer a TBI, they may become irritable, crying, and inconsolable, experience a change in eating or sleeping habits, be unable to pay attention, lose interest in favorite activities or toys, or experience drowsiness, sadness, or seizures.
What Causes Traumatic Brain Injury?
A lot of things can cause a traumatic brain injury, but the nature of the injury and force of impact determines how much damage is caused. Here are a few common causes:
- Falling down the stairs, falling from the bed or a ladder, or slipping and falling in the bath is a very common cause of TBI in young children and older adults.
- Road accidents can cause TBI in both – people in vehicles and pedestrians.
- Being a part of a certain sport can come with the risk of a TBI. For example, you may hurt yourself playing football, boxing, or hockey.
- For those in the military, being affected by an explosive blast can cause TBI.
- Other causes may be violent, like gunshot wounds, abuse, attempted suicide, or domestic violence. Violently shaking a baby can also cause TBI to the baby’s brain, and ultimately, death.
How is a Traumatic Brain Injury Treated?
While mild TBI can be treated with proper rest, more severe TBI requires advanced treatment, and possibly, a hospital stay. If you have TBI or know someone who might have it, these are your options:
- Counseling to help with the stress of recovery.
- Surgery to treat bleeding in the brain or reduce pressure from the swelling.
- Proper rest – the amount depends on the severity of the TBI.
- Rehabilitation using physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
This was all about traumatic brain injury. We tried covering all the aspects related to it still if you have any queries, do let us know in the comments below.