A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs because of sudden damage to the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “TBI is a form of nondegenerative acquired brain injury resulting from a bump, blow, or jolt to the head (or body) or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function.” Traumatic brain injuries are not uncommon, as the CDC estimates nearly 2.8 million Americans sustain a TBI each year. The University of Alabama at Birmingham explains that “many people who have problems such as poor memory, difficulties in learning and behavioral issues are unaware that they are experiencing symptoms resulting from an “unidentified” traumatic brain injury.” The Mayo Clinic lists several common events that could cause a TBI, including violence, sports injuries, vehicle-related collisions, falls, explosive blasts, and other combat injuries. It is important to note that not all blows or jolts to the head result in TBI.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
TBIs are divided into mild TBIs (concussions) and moderate to severe TBIs. While everyone is different the simplest way to gain a vague understanding of whether one has had a TBI is to be aware of its symptoms. TBI symptoms that present will directly correlate to the severity of one’s traumatic brain injury.
- Mild TBI Symptoms: could include, but are not limited to any combination of the following examples, as provided by the Mayfield Brain & Spine Clinic:
- Feelings of fatigue and/ or exhaustion
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Memory impairment (e.g., trouble remembering new information)
- Trouble with concentration, thinking and/ or attention
- Sensitivity to light and/ or sounds
- Blurred vision
- Behavior and/ or mood changes
- Moderate to Severe TBI Symptoms: could include, but are not limited to, any combination of the symptoms of mild TBIs in addition to the following examples, as provided by the Mayo Clinic:
- Persistent, worsening headache
- Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
- Convulsions and/ or seizures
- Repeated vomiting
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Continued nausea
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Loss of coordination
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Clear fluids draining from the nose and/ or ears
- Slurred speech
- Profound confusion
- Coma and other disorders of consciousness
To reach the most accurate conclusion, the best way to know if you have had a TBI is to be thoroughly evaluated by a medical professional. The diagnostic process for a TBI begins with a thorough medical evaluation. This typically includes a neurological exam that evaluates one’s coordination, thinking, motor function, sensory function, eye movement, and reflexes. There are also certain diagnostic tools that are used when diagnosing a TBI, including imaging tests such as computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). When assessing the severity of a traumatic brain injury, medical health professionals rely on the Glasgow Coma Scale. The Glasgow Coma Scale is a 15-point test that checks an individual’s ability to follow directions (e.g., moving one’s eyes, limbs, etc.). Based on one’s abilities, the individual is then scored from three to fifteen, where lower scores are indicative of more severe injuries. To receive the most effective treatment, an individual must be properly diagnosed by a qualified medical professional.
For Information and Support
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