TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury refers to the severe blow/injury to the head that affects the brain tissues and their functioning. This can due to the use of blunt force like hitting the head with a heavy object or when the head hits a hard object during an accident etc or due to piercing objects that pass through the skull and enter the brain damaging the brain tissues.
Mild traumatic brain injury may cause temporary loss of functionality of the brain cells that may get restored after few days or weeks. Severe traumatic brain injury can damage the brain tissues, killing that part of the brain cells permanently; in such cases, the function controlled by that particular part of the brain get affected and in some cases, severe traumatic brain injury can lead to brain death.
Symptoms of traumatic brain injury
Depending on the severity and location of the injury the symptoms may be seen immediately or some may show up after few days to weeks. The effects may be physical, sensory related, cognitive, mental or behavioural.
Mild traumatic brain injury symptoms
- Nausea or vomiting (this will be most common for any kind of TBI)
- Feeling less energetic or drowsy
- Speech (and memory) related problems
- Losing balance while standing or walking
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in ears
- Losing the sense of taste and/or smell
Brain related (cognitive, behavioural or mental) symptoms
- Confusion, temporary loss of memory, disorientation
- Loss of consciousness (mostly temporary)
- Problem recollecting or concentrating
- Problems sleeping or sleeping longer than usual
- Mood changes, depression, anxiety etc.
Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury symptoms
- Nausea or vomiting (severe)
- Severe headache
- Draining of fluids from ears or nose
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes (depends on the area where the brain is injured)
- Loss of consciousness for longer periods
- Confusion, inability to frame sentences, speech related problems
- Memory problems, inability to identify people
- Unpredictable behaviour
- Coma and long term unconscious state.
What causes traumatic brain injury?
There are several scenarios when a person can get his/her head injured, including:
- Falling from heights or while playing. Children when playing sports or running may hit hard objects or may fall from heights injuring their head. Sports persons such as those playing hockey, soccer, football, boxing, baseball, cricket etc can become a victim of TBI.
- Vehicle accidents. Head injuries as a result of road accidents whether you are walking on the street or riding a bike or driving a car can injure the brain severely, leading to death in some cases.
- Involving in mob clashes or fights can also cause injury to the head and brain.
- Explosions/blasts. Military personnel often fall victims of traumatic brain injury as they risk their lives to protect their country. Occasionally, civilians also become victims of violent activities that happen inside the country. Explosions and blasts spew out a lot of shrapnel and energy that can get into the bodies and heads of the people who are close to the spot. This often results in severe traumatic brain injury leading to loss of consciousness or even death.
When should you see a doctor?
- If you fell from a height and hurt your head
- If any object such as shrapnel, nail or a glass piece pierces through your head
- If you are hit by any object on your head
In short, if your head is injured or hit, you must see your doctor immediately and get it diagnosed. A series of tests such as X ray and even a MRI scan may be done to determine the impact of the accident or injury and appropriate treatment will be provided. Ignoring small injuries to head can lead to long term complications; it is always advisable to get checked with a good doctor near you.