Traumatic brain injuries can result from just about any type of accident. Sometimes there isn’t even any direct trauma to the head. Brain injuries can be open like when something penetrates the skull and brain, or they can be closed with no skull fracture or penetration. Some common causes of traumatic brain injuries include:
This is the most common type of brain injury. A concussion occurs when the brain impacts with the hard bone of the skull. Concussions are temporary, but repeated concussions might result in permanent brain damage like that suffered by some former football players and boxers.
This involves swelling of the brain from an injury. As it swells, the brain has nowhere to go because of the skull surrounding it. Edema can result in serious pressure on the brain.
There are two types of brain hemorrhages. The first is a subarachnoid hemorrhage which is bleeding around the brain. Headaches and vomiting are commonly associated with a subarachnoid hemorrhage. The other is an intracerebral hemorrhage which involves bleeding within the brain tissue itself that results in the dangerous pressure issue again.
The victim of a more serious brain injury might experience some of the same symptoms, but he or she might also experience:
The Glasgow Coma Scale is a neurological test used by physicians for purposes of measuring a victim’s mental status after a head injury. In accordance with the test results, injuries are classified as mild, moderate or severe. A doctor will also examine the victim for any objective signs of injury like cuts, abrasions, bruises and swelling. An objective neurological assessment will also be performed. The victim might then undergo radiological testing that’s most likely in the form of a CT scan or MRI to look for signs of a brain injury.
Depending on the nature and extent of a traumatic brain injury, a wide range of treatments are available.
A mild injury might only be treated with aspirin or Tylenol and rest. Ibuprofen should be avoided because it could increase any bleeding. Victims should be monitored at home for any new symptoms that might arise or any increased symptoms. Most people return to their daily activities in relatively short order.
Emergency room treatment for moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries focuses on reducing further brain damage as a result of swelling, bleeding or reduced oxygen supply. Diuretic drugs might be used to alleviate pressure inside of the brain. Moderate to severe brain injuries also carry the risk of seizures. That’s why medication to prevent seizures could be given for a period of time after the injury. Doctors might also place a traumatic brain injury patient in a drug induced coma to help alleviate pressure on the brain and deliver oxygen and nutrients to it.
Neurosurgery might be needed on an emergency basis for purposes of preventing further damage to the brain. Common surgeries after a traumatic brain injury include:
Most victims of moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries require rehabilitation. The type of rehabilitation and its length vary from person to person depending on the nature, extent and location of the injury. Both open and closed traumatic brain injuries can be permanent or fatal. At a minimum, an emergency room examination might be warranted for an open or closed head injury that results in any symptoms.