Traumatic Brain Injuries
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain from an external force that can cause a change in brain function. The brain controls important functions like breathing, movement, sensation, and higher-level functions like thinking, memory, and personality.
Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the extent of the damage to the brain. TBI is an individualized injury and recovery rates can vary significantly. Generally, the more severe the injury, the more likely the person will experience persisting symptoms or incomplete recovery.
Mild TBI (also called concussion) is the most common form of TBI. Mild TBI may or may not show up on a diagnostic imaging test, such as an MRI or CT scan. Recovery from a mild TBI can range from days to months or even years. It is not always associated with loss of consciousness, but it can cause unconsciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include:
- Vision Changes
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Sleep Disruption
- Fatigue or Lethargy
- Feeling slowed down or mentally foggy
- Issues with attention, memory, organization, or reasoning
- alterations in mood and behavior (depression, anxiety, irritability)
Moderate & Severe TBI
Moderate and severe TBI can include all or some symptoms of a mild TBI, along with:
- Signs of injury on brain imaging (MRI, CT)
- Unconsciousness (coma) up to or exceeding 24 hours
- Headache that gets worse or does not go away
- Nausea or repeated vomiting
- Convulsions or seizures
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Poor coordination
- Confusion, agitation, or slurred speech
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.
Signs and symptoms generally show up soon after the injury. However, you may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. For example, in the first few minutes, your child or teen might be a little confused or a bit dazed, but an hour later your child might not be able to remember how he or she got hurt. You should continue to check for signs of concussion right after the injury and a few days after the injury. If your child or teen’s concussion signs or symptoms get worse, you should take him or her to the emergency department right away.