Traumatic brain injuries, as the name clearly points out, are caused by a trauma to the brain. This often presents itself in the form of an external force, applied with violence at the level of the brain. Despite being protected by the sturdy cranial cavity, the brain can be easily damaged in such cases, its overall functioning being affected. Depending on the type of trauma, the injury can be closed or it can penetrate the cranial cavity. The symptoms of such traumatic injuries depend on the area of the brain that has been affected; the type of injury will also dictate the chosen course of treatment.

Brain injuries

Symptoms

The symptoms of traumatic brain injuries, as it has already been mentioned above, depend on the actual type of injury and the damaged area of the brain. Many people deal with brain injury and memory loss, especially after violent accidents. However, it is important to understand that the cognitive functioning can be affected as well; one can exhibit a wide range of other symptoms, related to the emotional, social and behavioral functions of the brain. The more severe the injury to the brain was the more diverse and intense the consequent symptoms are going to be.

Right after the actual trauma, one can lose consciousness or experience life-threatening symptoms, such as lethargy, inability to move or speak. One can experience moderate to intense headaches, blurred vision and inadequate coordination. Nausea and vomiting are frequent, as well as loss of balance, dizziness and tinnitus. If the cognitive functioning has been affected, one will have difficulties responding, speaking or concentrating.

The speech can be affected as well, with patients exhibiting slurred speech, aphasia or dysarthria. They may lose their ability to move and coordinate, especially when balance problems are associated (damage to the cerebellum). Patients who have suffered from traumatic brain injuries may exhibit personality changes, not to mention experience confusion, social behavioral problems and constant agitation.

If the intracranial pressure reaches high levels, life-threatening symptoms can appear. The patient can lose consciousness, experience an abnormally low heart rate or enter in a state of respiratory depression. In such situations, emergency intervention is necessary, in order to prevent sudden death.

Causes

The brain is protected by the tough cranial cavity and it does not become easily damaged. However, in case of trauma, things change. A violent force can cause a lot of damage to the brain, especially in case of vehicle accidents. Traumatic brain injuries are also common in those who engage in contact sports or those who have been involved in work-related accidents (constructions in particular).

Regular sports can lead to traumatic brain injuries as well, especially when violent force is involved. Other recreational activities are responsible for such health problems, especially in children. They are more fragile, as their bones are still developing and, thus, more vulnerable to such injuries. Traffic accidents, involving any kind of motor vehicle, are often responsible for traumatic brain injuries, including in the pediatric population.

Physical violence is one of the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries, not only in children but also in adults. Child abuse and domestic violence are two main causes of such injuries, leading to life-threatening complications and even death. Industrial accidents, such as the ones that occur on oil platforms, as a result of explosions or due to chemical products, are responsible for traumatic brain injuries (more commonly in men). Traumatic brain injuries are often encountered in war zones, being often caused by explosive projectiles, gun attacks and open-fire combat.

Treatment

In all traumatic brain injuries, emergency treatment is essential, in order to prevent life-threatening complications and death. Depending on the severity of the injury, the patient might need intubation (respiratory support). Emergency surgical interventions are performed, in order to reduce the intracranial pressure and avoid the excess swelling of the brain. Surgery is also recommended in case of brain hemorrhages, for the prevention of further complications.

Before administering any kind of treatment, the patient will undergo imaging investigations. This will determine what part of the brain has been affected and also guide the further treatment measures. The patient will receive analgesics or sedatives, in order to relieve the pain. Hypertonic saline solutions are administered to reduce the swelling at the level of the brain and also the electrolyte imbalances that might cause heart failure.

Fluids are administered intravenously, in order to maintain the blood pressure at a stable level. Medication, such as benzodiazepines, is administered in order to protect the brain against seizures and further damage. Craniotomy might be performed in case of excessive brain swelling or to reduce the intracranial pressure.

Once the acute phase has passed, the treatment will be concentrated on the rehabilitation of the patient. Physiotherapy is essential in the chronic phase, as it can improve the functional outcome and guarantee the best possible recovery from the trauma. Patients can also benefit from speech and language therapy, especially if they have suffered injuries to the parts of the brain responsible for speech. Other treatments include occupational therapy, psychological counseling and NeuroGum supplement.

It is important to understand that the recovery from a traumatic brain injury can spread over several years. In some cases, the recovery is not possible and the patient has to learn how to live with the remaining functioning potential. The support of family and other caregivers is essential for these patients.

Conclusion

Traumatic brain injuries can lead to permanent disabilities, affecting a person’s overall quality of life. The faster one receives treatment in the acute phase, the better the overall prognosis is going to be. Additional therapies, such as the ones mentioned above, can guarantee a faster and better recovery from the respective injury. The living environment often has to be adapted to the needs of the patient, with occupational therapy playing a very important role in the matter. Moreover, the patient has to benefit from regular counseling, in order to deal with feelings of anger, symptoms of depression and frustration in an effective manner.

AUTHOR BIO

Katleen Brown is a health, beauty and fitness writer. She loves to publish her articles on various health related websites. In her spare time, likes to do research to bring awareness.

Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and outlook, she helps empower women to tune into their innate & inner wisdom to transform their health and truly flourish.

Get in touch with her on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

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