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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” The brain is arguably the most complex organ, as it not only controls all functions of one’s body, but also interprets all external stimuli. Due to its complexity, when the brain suffers an injury, the effects are often unknown (as they will be distinct to the individual) and TBI symptoms can range from mild to severe. Traumatic brain injuries are not uncommon, as the CDC estimates nearly 2.8 million Americans sustain a TBI each year. 


Traumatic brain injuries occur as a result of a traumatic injury or blow to the head or body. The severity of a TBI is dependent upon several factors (e.g. force of the impact, nature of the injury, etc.). The Mayo Clinic lists the following common events that could cause a TBI:

  • Violence
  • Sports injuries
  • Vehicle-related collisions
  • Falls
  • Explosive blasts
  • Other combat injuries

It is important to note that not all blows or jolts to the head result in a severe TBI. In fact, according to the CDC, mild traumatic brain injuries (MTBI), also referred to as concussions, are far more common. 


The physiological symptoms that could present from a TBI are wide-ranging. Further, some symptoms may develop immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or even weeks later.  Possible symptoms of a TBI could include, but are not limited to, any combination of the following examples, as provided by the Mayo Clinic

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Visual and/ or auditory sensitivity
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Convulsions and/ or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils
  • Loss of coordination
  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and/ or toes
  • Slurred speech
  • Agitation
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Clear fluids draining from the ears and/ or nose

No two brains are the same, and as such no two traumatic brain injuries, even if they occur as a result of the same trauma, will be identical. 


In order to properly treat a TBI the severity of one’s injury must be determined. When assessing the severity of a traumatic brain injury, medical health professionals typically rely on the Glasgow Coma Scale. This is a 15-point test that checks an individual’s ability to follow directions (e.g. moving one’s eyes and limbs). Medical professionals will also consider an individuals ability to speak coherently when distinguishing the severity of the TBI. There are a variety of treatment methods used when treating a traumatic brain injury. The severity of the TBI will also greatly inform what is included in one’s treatment plan. Depending on the individual any combination of the following interventions could be included in one’s treatment plan: 

Each individual is unique and will require a customized treatment plan. Most individuals that have suffered a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury will likely require additional rehabilitation. Rehabilitation specialists could include but are not limited to: occupational therapists, physiatrists, speech and language pathologists, physical therapists, neuropsychologists, recreational therapists, and more. Rehabilitative therapies can be beneficial as they help an individual relearn basic fine and gross motor skills (e.g. walking, speaking, writing, etc.) as well as improve their ability to perform daily activities independently. 

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