Traumatic Brain Injury: Overview, Causes, Effects, and Treatment

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of acquired brain injury resulting from a sudden and violent blow or jolt to the head, altering the brain's functions. Sometimes the brain might get fractured, but it is not always the case. During the impact of the accident or incident resulting in traumatic brain injury, the brain crashes with the skull in a back and forth direction resulting in bruising, bleeding, and tearing of the nerve fibers. 

At first, the jolt might not seem too harsh to the person with maybe a little confusion or brief unconsciousness only at the beginning, but it can eventually lead up to a serious injury.

Traumatic brain injury can be either mild, moderate, or severe depending upon its severity and mechanism.

1. Mild: The person is awake with eyes open. Symptoms often include brief loss of consciousness, memory loss, confusion, disorientation, and even headache.

2. Moderate: The person feels lethargic, and the eyes are open to some stimulation only. Unconsciousness lasts from 20 minutes to 6 hours. Internal bleeding or swelling in the brain might cause sleepiness as well.

3. Severe: Unconsciousness lasts for more than 6 hours, due to which the person doesn’t open eyes even to external stimulation.

What are the major types of traumatic brain injury?

1. Hematoma

It is clotting of blood outside the blood vessels and becomes all the more serious when occurs in the brain. Due to increased pressure inside the skull, the person might lose consciousness or can result in serious brain damage.

2. Hemorrhage

This is uncontrolled bleeding either in the space around the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage) or within the brain tissues (intracerebral hemorrhage). The first one causes headaches and vomiting while the latter’s severity depends on the amount of bleeding!

3. Concussion

It occurs when the impact on the head is severe enough to cause any kind of brain injury and often causes temporary unconsciousness.

4. Edema

It is swelling in the brain or surrounding tissues.

5. Skull fracture

Though the skull is too hard to break but in extreme cases, it can get fractured with probable chances of even the brain also being affected!

6. Diffuse axonal injury

It is damage to the brain cells resulting in swelling or even more severe damage.

Signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury

For a mild TBI:

  • Unconsciousness for a few seconds or minutes

  • Blurred vision

  • Headache and vomiting

  • Confused, irritated, or anxious besides mood changes

  • Fatigue, loss of balance, and inability to sleep

For a moderate to severe TBI:

  • Unconsciousness lasting up to hours

  • Seizures, sudden swelling, or bruises behind the ears or around the eyes

  • Blood or a clear fluid draining from ears or nose

  • Irregular breathing

  • Dilation of one of both the pupils of eyes

  • Worsened headache or continuous vomiting

Note: In case you suspect TBI, immediately call 911 or take them to an emergency medical attendance ASAP!

What causes traumatic brain injury?

General causes include falls, sports injuries, RTA (road traffic accidents), blast injuries due to explosions, being hit by a strong object, and vehicle crashes.

How is a traumatic brain injury diagnosed?

1. One of the most common diagnosis mechanisms is via Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), a 15-point test to assess one’s mental status. Higher the score, the lesser the severity of the injury.

2. You might also be asked to go for a neurological examination to evaluate your nerve function by assessing your sensation, eye movement, muscle strength and control, and much more!

3. Lastly, an MRI or CT scan can help get quick and most accurate results for any internal swelling, bleeding, clotting, or even structural damage. Both offer a detailed view and image of the brain, but can only be performed once you are stable.

Go check out MedOnTheGo for any healthcare products, including brain injuries as well, once prescribed by a medical specialist!

How is a traumatic brain injury treated?

Treatment of TBI depends on the severity level.

For a mild TBI, adequate rest and certain pain-relieving medications prove to be best. But you still need to keep your condition under check to not develop serious symptoms.

Try waking up every 2-3 hours to check that you don’t develop any new symptoms. In case the condition worsens, try consulting your healthcare provider for better guidance and quick treatment!

For moderate or severe TBI cases, treatment often begins with making your condition stable to not worsen it anymore. Then any of the following can be adopted by the specialist based on your condition.

  • Medication

Anti-seizure medication is often preferred in case of a severe injury, but not for a week at least following the injury. Diuretics help in excreting more fluids, help relieve off the pressure buildup in the brain. Lastly, you might also be put up on medicines that induce a coma to heal the brain as then your brain won’t require much oxygen or nutrients to function.

  • Surgery

Though it is always kept as the last resort, certain conditions call for an immediate surgical treatment like repairment of the skull, removal of hematoma, releasing some pressure off the skull, and much more!

  • Rehabilitation

It is again a form of treatment involving types of therapies depending upon what functionality got affected the most due to the injury. It can be physical, cognitive, or emotional therapy.

Precautions to take ahead?

1. Avoid activities that might lead to another injury.

2. Take sufficient rest.

3. Don’t take any drugs not recommended by the specialist.

4. Don’t take up normal activities immediately.

5. Wear protective gear while playing sports, a helmet when riding a bicycle, motorcycle, or skateboard, etc., and finally, the seat belt when in the car.

Owing to the complexity of a traumatic brain injury and its widely spread consequences, no single medical facility is sufficient. But always equip yourself with all possible medical emergency supplies in case an emergency arises. Get such certified supplies besides treatment and care education from MedOnTheGo.