Diagnosing and Treating Traumatic Brain Injury

Diagnosing and Treating Traumatic Brain Injury

Anyone can suffer a head injury at any time. Head injuries can cause damage to the brain and permanently alter the course of the victims’ lives. When your head and brain suffer a sudden impact, your brain can bounce inside of your skull. This type of movement can cause a traumatic brain injury because of the damage to your brain cells. In most cases, a traumatic brain injury will be a medical emergency. Without immediate medical treatment, a TBI can rapidly worsen. If you suspect a TBI, you should seek care from a doctor immediately.

What Are the Causes and Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries?

Traumatic brain injuries can occur when people suffer jolts, penetrating injuries, or jolts to the head. These types of blows and injuries can disrupt the normal functioning of the brain. When TBIs occur, they can range from mild to severe injuries. Mild TBIs might result in a temporary change in the victim’s mental status. Severe TBIs may cause life-altering changes to the victim’s ability to think and care for themselves without prompt treatment.

Recognizing the symptoms of a TBI is important so that you can seek prompt medical attention. If you suffer from a mild TBI, you might experience headaches, confusion, behavioral changes, or blurred vision. Your pupils may be of unequal size. The symptoms of moderate or severe TBI can include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness of the extremities
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty concentrating or thinking
  • Loss of consciousness

If you experience any of these symptoms after an accident, you should go to the hospital immediately. If you notice that your loved one is showing these types of symptoms, call 911 for help.

How Are Traumatic Brain Injuries Diagnosed?

Traumatic brain injuries are notoriously difficult to diagnose. However, doctors can diagnose them by using a combination of methods.

Doctors start by performing a medical exam when a traumatic brain injury is suspected. They might use the Glasgow Coma Scale to assess the injury’s severity. During this neurological assessment, the doctor checks the victim’s ability to move their limbs and eyes and follow simple directions. The Glasgow Coma Scale includes 15 assessment points. Medical professionals score the patient’s abilities while administering the test with scores ranging from three to 15. Higher scores indicate less severe injuries.

Doctors may also ask family members or others for information about the patient’s injury and symptoms. If you bring your loved one to the hospital for treatment, the doctor might ask you how the injury happened, which bodily areas were impacted, and the symptoms you observed. This information helps the treating medical professionals to assess your loved one’s condition.

Doctors may also use imaging tests such as computerized tomography scans or magnetic resonance imaging tests. These tests help doctors to check for potentially life-threatening injuries, including brain bleeds, that might require immediate surgery.

How TBIs are Treated

The treatment that might be used for a TBI will depend on the injury’s severity. Since tissues can swell after a TBI, the doctor might insert a probe to monitor the patient’s intracranial pressure.

If you or your loved one suffer from a mild TBI, the doctors might instruct you to use over-the-counter pain medications and to get some rest. People who suffer from mild TBIs should still be monitored closely for new or worsening symptoms. People with mild brain injuries may have to follow up with their doctors. Their doctors will tell them when they can safely return to school or work and start engaging in recreational activities again. Physical activities should be limited until the doctor advises the patient that it is safe to resume them.

Emergency treatment for moderate to severe TBIs first focuses on ensuring that the patient has a sufficient supply of oxygen and blood to the brain. The medical professionals work to maintain the patient’s blood pressure and to prevent worsening of the neck or head injuries. In many cases, people who suffer from severe TBIs will also have other injuries. Emergency department doctors will focus on reducing inflammation and injuries from reduced oxygen or bleeding.

The doctor might prescribe several types of medications to reduce additional damage to the brain. These might include diuretics to lessen pressure from fluids and anti-seizure drugs to prevent seizures during the first week. Anti-seizure medications will only be continued after the first week if the patient experiences seizures. If the patient has suffered from reduced oxygen, a doctor might prescribe a coma-inducing drug. This might be prescribed because a person in a coma needs less oxygen for brain functioning.

Emergency surgery might be necessary to reduce brain tissue damage. Surgery might be performed to achieve the following outcomes:

  • To remove hematomas that place pressure on the brain
  • To repair fractures
  • To stop brain bleeds
  • To relieve intracranial pressure

Emergency treatment can help to prevent a TBI from causing further brain damage. It can help to improve the patient’s prognosis for recovery. Once a patient has received emergency treatment for a moderate or severe TBI and has stabilized, rehabilitation might be necessary.

People who suffer from severe TBIs normally require rehabilitation. Some people will need to relearn how to talk or walk. The goal of rehabilitation following a traumatic brain injury is to improve the person’s ability to perform the normal activities of daily life.

Rehabilitation therapy will normally start in the hospital and continue at a rehabilitation unit, in a residential facility, or through outpatient treatment. The length of rehabilitation therapy and where it is provided will depend on how severe the brain injury is and the brain injury’s location.

Many different professionals may be involved in a rehabilitation team following a severe TBI, including the following:

  • Physical therapist
  • Occupational therapist
  • Speech/language pathologist
  • Physiatrist
  • Neuropsychologist
  • Rehabilitation nurse
  • Social worker
  • Vocational therapist
  • Recreational therapist

The treatment team will work together to facilitate the patient’s recovery. In some cases, ongoing rehabilitation may be necessary.  Traumatic brain injuries can be life-changing and might cause ongoing disabilities. By seeking medical treatment as soon as a TBI is suspected, victims might enjoy better outcomes. People whose TBIs result from accidents caused by others might also want to seek legal representation to recover compensation for their losses. Because of the severity of traumatic brain injuries, the required treatment and ongoing rehabilitation can be very expensive. Recovering compensation through a personal injury claim might help pay for the direct and indirect costs associated with a TBI.

Author Bio

Written by Meghan Hale, a content writer at Deepakshukla.com and editing machine. You’ll find me yelling at my dog to stop barking, whether it be at the neighbours or on a long afternoon walk.