Traumatic Brain Injury: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments (2023)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a disruption in normal brain function that can be caused by a blow, blow or shake to the head, the head striking an object suddenly and violently, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. The observation of one of the following clinical signs constitutes a disturbance of normal brain function:

  • Loss or decrease of consciousness
  • Loss of memory of events before or after the event (amnesia)
  • Focal neurological deficits such as muscle weakness, vision loss, speech changes
  • Altered mental status, such as disorientation, slow thinking, or difficulty concentrating

Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on the extent of the brain damage. Mild cases may result in a brief change in mental status or consciousness. Severe cases can lead to prolonged periods of unconsciousness, coma, or even death.


According to the CDC, approximately 2.87 million cases of TBI occurred in the US in 2014, with more than 837,000 cases in children. An estimated 13.5 million people are living with a disability due to traumatic brain injury in the United States alone.

  • TCE's estimated annual direct and indirect costs are $76.5 billion.
  • There are approximately 288,000 TBI hospitalizations each year, more than 20 times the number of spinal cord injury hospitalizations.
  • Since 2006, there has been a 53% increase in the total number of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and TBI-related deaths.
  • Among children age 14 and younger, TBI is responsible for approximately 2,529 deaths, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 837,000 emergency room visits.
  • Each year, between 80,000 and 90,000 people experience the onset of long-term or lifelong disabilities associated with TBI.
  • Men account for 78.8% of all reported TBI crashes and women account for 21.2%, with higher rates of TBI among men (959 per 100,000) than among women (811 per 100,000).
  • Sports and recreational activities contribute to about 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children and adolescents.
  • The highest rates of TBI are seen in older adults (≥75 years; 2232 per 100,000), very young (0 to 4 years; 1591 per 100,000), and young adults (15 to 24 years; 1081 per 100,000).
  • The TBI death rate is 30 per 100,000, or an estimated 50,000 deaths in the US annually.
  • Head trauma deaths account for 34% of all traumatic deaths. From the age of 30, the risk of mortality after a head injury begins to increase.
  • The main causes of TBI-related deaths are due to car accidents, suicides and falls.
  • The leading causes of non-fatal TBI in the US are falls (35%), motor vehicle-related injuries (17%) and bumps or blows to the head by or against an object (17%), such as sports injuries. .


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): Incidence and Distribution, 2014.
Introduction to brain injuries: facts and statistics, February 2000.


Symptoms vary greatly depending on the severity of the head injury. They can include any of the following:

  • vomit
  • Lethargy
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Paralysis
  • Coma
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vision changes (blurred or double vision, inability to tolerate bright light, loss of eye movement, blindness)
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) (clear or tinged with blood) appears in the ears or nose
  • Dizziness and balance problems
  • Breathing problems
  • slow pulse
  • Slow respiratory rate with increased blood pressure
  • Ringing in the ears or hearing changes
  • cognitive difficulties
  • inappropriate emotional responses
  • Speech difficulties (slurred speech, inability to understand and/or articulate words)
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Numbness or tingling in the body
  • Droopy eyelid or facial weakness
  • Loss of bowel control or bladder control

If TBI is suspected, call 911 immediately or take the person to an emergency room.

types of injuries

TBIs can cause "massive injuries" such as a localized area of ​​injury such as bruises and contusions that increase pressure within the brain. The following summarizes the different types of sequelae that develop from TBI:

Hematoma:A hematoma is a blood clot within the brain or on its surface. Hematomas can occur in any part of the brain. An epidural hematoma is a collection of blood between the dura mater (the protective covering of the brain) and the inside of the skull. A subdural hematoma is a collection of blood between the dura mater and the arachnoid layer, which lies directly on the surface of the brain.

Contusion:A concussion is a bruise to brain tissue. When examined under a microscope, brain concussions are comparable to concussions on other parts of the body. They consist of injured or inflamed areas of the brain mixed with blood that has leaked from arteries, veins or capillaries. Contusions are usually found at the base of the front parts of the brain, but they can occur anywhere.

Hemorragia intracerebral:An intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) describes bleeding within brain tissue, it can be related to other brain injuries, especially concussions. The size and location of the bleed help determine whether it can be surgically removed.

Subarachnoid hemorrhage:Subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is caused by bleeding into the subarachnoid space. Appears as diffuse blood that spreads thinly over the surface of the brain and usually after TBI. Most cases of SAH associated with head trauma are mild. Hydrocephalus may be due to severe traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage.

diffuse lesions:TBIs can cause microscopic changes that don't show up on CT scans and are scattered throughout the brain. This category of injury, called diffuse brain injury, can occur with or without associated massive damage.

Diffuse axonal injury:Axonal injury refers to impaired function and gradual loss of axons. These long stretches of nerve cells allow them to communicate with each other. If enough axons are damaged in this way, the nerve cells' ability to communicate with each other and integrate their functions can be lost or greatly impaired, possibly leaving the patient with severe disabilities.

Ischemia:Another type of diffuse injury is ischemia, or insufficient blood supply to certain parts of the brain. A decrease in blood supply to very low levels can commonly occur in a significant number of TBI patients. This is crucial, as a brain that has just suffered a traumatic injury is especially sensitive to small reductions in blood flow. Changes in blood pressure during the first few days after a head injury can also have an adverse effect.

Skull fractures:Linear skull fractures or simple fractures or "cracks" in the skull can accompany TBIs.

Possible forces strong enough to cause a skull fracture could damage the underlying brain. Skull fractures can be alarming if found on patient assessment. Fractures at the base of the skull are problematic as they can injure nerves, arteries or other structures. If the fracture extends into the sinuses, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage from the nose or ears may occur. Depressed skull fractures, in which part of the bone presses against the brain, can also occur.

Tests and Diagnosis

Anyone with signs of moderate or severe TBI should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Because there's not much we can do to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma, doctors try to stabilize a person with TBI and focus on preventing further damage.

First, heart and lung function is assessed. A quick full-body examination is then performed, followed by a complete neurological examination. The neurological examination includes an assessment using the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). In addition to the GCS, the ability of the pupils to become smaller in bright light is also tested. In patients with large massive lesions or high intracranial pressure (ICP), one or both pupils may be very dilated or "bloated". The presence of a wide or dilated pupil on only one side suggests that a large mass lesion may be present. Brainstem reflexes, including gagging and corneal (blinking), can also be assessed.

radiological exams

A computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan is the gold standard for radiological evaluation of a patient with TBI. CT is easy to perform and an excellent test for detecting the presence of blood and fractures, the most crucial injuries to identify in cases of medical trauma. Some people recommend plain skull x-rays as a way to evaluate patients with mild neurologic dysfunction. However, most centers in the US have CT scans readily available, a more accurate test, decreasing the routine use of skull radiographs for patients with TBI.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is not commonly used for acute head injuries because it takes longer to perform an MRI than a CT scan. Since it is difficult to transport a seriously injured patient from the emergency room to an MRI scanner, the use of MRI is impractical. However, once the patient is stabilized, the MRI may show lesions that were not detected on the CT scan. This information is generally more useful in determining prognosis than in influencing treatment.



Many patients with moderate or severe head trauma go directly from the emergency room to the operating room. In many cases, surgery is done to remove a large bruise or bruise that is significantly compressing the brain or increasing pressure within the skull. After surgery, these patients are under observation in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Other head trauma patients may not go to the operating room right away, but are rushed from the emergency room to the ICU. Because bruising or contusions can increase during the first few hours or days after a head injury, immediate surgery is not recommended in these patients until several days after the injury. Delayed hematomas may be discovered when a patient's neurologic examination worsens or when ICP increases. Other times, a routine follow-up CT scan to determine whether a small lesion has changed in size indicates that the hematoma or bruise has significantly increased. In these cases, the safest approach is to remove the lesion before it grows large and causes neurological damage.

During surgery, the hair on the affected part of the head is usually shaved. After the scalp incision, the removed bone is removed in one piece or flap and replaced after surgery, unless it is contaminated. The dura mater is carefully cut away to reveal the underlying brain. After removing any bruises or bruises, the neurosurgeon checks that the area is not bleeding. He then closes the dura mater, replaces the bone and closes the scalp. If the brain is severely inflamed, some neurosurgeons may decide not to replace the bone until the swelling subsides, which can take several weeks. The neurosurgeon may choose to place a PCI monitor or other types of monitors if they are not already installed. The patient returns to the ICU for observation and further care.

non-surgical treatments

Currently, medication given to prevent nerve damage or promote nerve healing after TBI is not available. The main goal in the ICU is to prevent any secondary injury to the brain. "Primary assault" refers to the initial trauma to the brain, while "secondary assault" is any later development that may contribute to neurological damage. For example, an injured brain is especially sensitive and vulnerable to well-tolerated drops in blood pressure. One way to avoid secondary insults is to aim for normal or slightly elevated blood pressure levels. Likewise, increases in ICP, decreases in blood oxygenation, increases in body temperature, increases in blood glucose, and many other disorders can potentially worsen neurological damage. The main role of ICU management is the prevention of secondary injuries in patients with head trauma.

Various monitoring devices can help healthcare professionals to care for the patient. Placing a PCI monitor in the brain can help detect excessive inflammation. A commonly used type of PCI monitor is a ventriculostomy, a narrow, flexible, hollow catheter inserted into the ventricles or fluid spaces in the center of the brain to monitor PCI and drain CSF if PCI increases. Another commonly used type of intracranial pressure monitoring device involves placing a small fiberoptic catheter directly into brain tissue. Additional catheters can be added to measure brain temperature and brain tissue oxygenation. Placing an oxygen sensor in the jugular vein can detect how much oxygen the brain is using. This may be related to the degree of brain damage. Many other monitoring techniques are currently under investigation to determine whether they can help improve outcome after head injury or provide additional information about the care of TBI patients.


One of the most widely used systems for classifying head injury outcomes is the Glasgow Outcomes Scale (GOS). Patients with mild head trauma (generally defined as an admission GCS score of 13 to 15) tend to do well. They may experience headaches, dizziness, irritability or similar symptoms, but these gradually improve in most cases.

Patients with moderate head injuries fare worse. Approximately 60% will recover positively and approximately 25% will be left with a moderate degree of disability. Death or a persistent vegetative state will result in about 7 to 10 percent of cases. The rest of the patients will have a severe degree of disability.

The group consisting of patients with severe head injury had the worst results. Only 25 to 33% of these patients have positive results. Moderate disability and severe disability each occur in about one-sixth of patients, with moderate disability slightly more common. About 33% of these patients do not survive. The remaining small percentage remain persistently vegetative.

The above statistics apply to patients with so-called closed head injuries. For penetrating head injuries, now commonly caused by firearms, the results follow a different pattern. More than 50 percent of all patients with gunshot wounds to the head who are alive on arrival at the hospital do not survive due to severe initial injuries. Patients with relatively mild injuries (GCS score 13-15) tend to do very well. Comparatively few patients suffer injuries of intermediate severity (GCS score 9-12) from gunshot wounds; it is this group that has the greatest variability in results.

Despite its usefulness, the GOS is not a good tool for measuring subtle emotional or cognitive problems. Several months after a severe head injury, patients with a good GOS score may have significant neuropsychological impairments. Enormous effort is directed toward finding better ways to assess these problems, improving the quality of prehospital, acute, and rehabilitation care, and research to learn more about the effects of head injuries and possible treatment options.

Table 1: Glasgow Coma Scale

6obey orders--
5locate the stimulusoriented-
4Get away from the stimulusVersed but confusedThe eyes open spontaneously.
3flex your armIndicates recognizable words or phraseseyes open to the voice
2extend your armmakes unintelligible soundsEyes open to painful stimulus.
1No answerNo answerstay closed

Table 2: Glasgow Outcome Scale

Good recovery (GR)5Minor disabilities, but able to resume normal life.
Moderate Disability (DM)4More significant disabilities, but still able to live independently. You can use public transport, work in an assisted situation, etc.
Major Disability (SD)3Aware but dependent on others for daily care. often institutionalized
Persistent Vegetative State (PVS)2Not conscious, although eyes may be open and may "follow" movement
Dead (D)1Self explanatory

Teasdale G, Jennett B. Assessment of coma and altered consciousness. Lancet 1974; 81-84.
Teasdale G, Jennett B. Evaluation and prognosis of coma after head injury. Neurochir Act 1976; 34:45-55.


Once head trauma patients leave the acute hospital, some benefit from a rehabilitation program. The main candidates for rehabilitation are patients with less severe initial injuries or those who have started to show significant improvement.

In some cases, transferring to a rehabilitation hospital or the rehabilitation service of a large hospital can speed up recovery. For patients with more severe injuries or slow recovery, constant vigilance is needed to avoid the gradual onset of problems with joint mobility, skin integrity, respiratory status, infection, and many other physiological functions. Patients with moderate or mild injuries, or patients with severe injuries who have sufficiently improved, are likely candidates for outpatient therapy.

Most TBI centers emphasize compensatory strategies to help patients learn to achieve the highest level of functioning that their impairments allow. The concept of cognitive retraining, a controversial concept which assumes that at least part of the brain's cognitive capacity can be restored by constant repetition of certain simple tasks, is also emphasized in many centres. Head injury rehabilitation centers work with patients' families to educate them about realistic expectations and better help their injured family members.

General tips for head injury prevention

  • Wear a seat belt whenever driving or riding in a motor vehicle.
  • Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol or ride as a passenger with someone who is under the influence.
  • Keep firearms unloaded in a locked cabinet or safe, and store ammunition in a safe, separate place.
  • Eliminate home hazards that can contribute to falls. Secure loose rugs and electrical cords, put away toys, use security gates, and install window guards. Install grab bars and handrails if you are frail or elderly.

Head injury prevention tips for sports and recreation

  • For specific sports, 100% of the time, purchase and use American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) approved helmets or helmets.
  • Supervise younger children at all times.
  • Do not allow young children to use sports equipment or play sports that are inappropriate for their age.
  • Avoid using playgrounds with hard surfaces.
  • Follow all rules and warning signs at water parks, swimming pools and public beaches.
  • Do not dive in water less than 12 feet deep or in above ground pools. Check the depth and check the water for debris before diving.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for sports.
  • Do not wear clothing that could interfere with your vision.
  • Do not play sports when you are sick or very tired.
  • Obey all road signs and pay attention to drivers when riding a bicycle or skateboard.
  • Avoid uneven or unpaved surfaces when bicycling, skateboarding or rollerblading.
  • Conduct regular safety checks of sports fields, playgrounds and equipment.
  • Discard and replace damaged sports equipment or protective gear.
  • Never slide upside down when stealing a base.

glossary of terms

  • agnosia– inability to recognize familiar objects despite intact sensory mechanism
  • Agraphia– the inability to express thoughts in writing
  • Alexia- the inability to read
  • Amnesia– lack of memory about events that occur during a certain period of time
  • Anosmia- loss of smell
  • Anoxemia– a condition in which there is an absence of oxygen supply to the tissues of an organ, although there is adequate blood flow to the tissue
  • Aphasia– loss of ability to express oneself and/or understand language
  • Arachnoid– middle layer of membranes covering the brain and spinal cord
  • Ataxia– shaky, unsteady movements resulting from the brain’s inability to regulate body posture and the strength and direction of movements
  • axon– the nerve fiber that carries an impulse from the nerve cell to a target and also transports materials from the nerve endings back to the nerve cell
  • brainstem- the stem-like part of the brain that connects to the spinal cord
  • head trauma– impact to the head by an external force, without fracture or displacement of the skull
  • Concussion– an interruption, usually temporary, of neurological function as a result of a head injury or violent agitation
  • LCR– a clear fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord
  • bruise- a bruise; an area where blood that has leaked from blood vessels mixes with brain tissue
  • kickback injury– bruises that are at the site of impact and on the completely opposite side of the brain
  • sunken skull fracture– a break in the bones of the head where some bone is pushed in, possibly pushing or pressing on the brain
  • diplopia– a condition in which a single object appears as two objects; also called double vision
  • tough mother– the outermost, toughest, and most fibrous of the three membranes (meninges) that cover the brain and spinal cord
  • dysarthria– speech characteristically slurred, slow and difficult to understand
  • Edema– accumulation of fluid in the tissue that causes swelling
  • epidural– located inside or outside the dura mater, the outermost, toughest, and most fibrous of the three membranes (meninges) that cover the brain
  • hemiplejía– paralysis on one side of the body as a result of damage to the neurons that transmit signals to muscles in the motor areas of the brain or spinal cord
  • hemiparesis– weakness, paralysis or loss of movement on one side of the body
  • hemianopsia– loss of part of the visual field of one or both eyes
  • hydrocephalus– a condition in which excess CSF builds up inside the ventricles (fluid-containing chambers) of the brain and can cause increased pressure inside the head
  • hypoxia– a condition in which there is decreased oxygen to the tissue despite adequate blood flow to the tissue
  • intraparenquimatous- within the parenchyma of the brain
  • Ischemia– a reduction in blood flow believed to be one of the main causes of secondary injury to the brain or spinal cord after trauma
  • lock-in syndrome– a rare neurological condition where a person is unable to physically move any part of the body except the eyes
  • open head injury– trauma to the brain resulting in loss of consciousness due to penetration of the brain by a foreign object such as a bullet
  • subarachnoid hemorrhage– Blood or bleeding into the space below the arachnoid membrane, most commonly due to trauma or a ruptured aneurysm
  • subcortical– the region below the cerebral cortex
  • Subdural– the area under the dura mater that covers the brain and spinal cord
  • vasospasm– spasm of the blood vessels which reduces their diameter
  • Ventricles (brain)– four natural cavities in the brain that are filled with cerebrospinal fluid

Traumatic brain injury resources

Information about the author

Published on 02/03/2020 by Nitin Agarwal, MD, Ruth Thakkar, Khoi Than, MD, FAANS

AANS does not endorse any treatment, procedure, product or physician mentioned in these patient information sheets. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific neurosurgical advice or assistance should consult their neurosurgeon or search for one in their area through the AANS Find a Board-certified Neurosurgeon online tool.


What are the causes and symptoms of traumatic brain injury? ›

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries
  • Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours.
  • Persistent headache or headache that worsens.
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea.
  • Convulsions or seizures.
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes.
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears.
  • Inability to awaken from sleep.
Feb 4, 2021

What are 3 signs of traumatic brain injury? ›

Symptoms of Moderate or Severe TBI
  • Headache that gets worse or will not go away.
  • Loss of vision in one or both eyes.
  • Repeated vomiting or continued nausea.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Convulsions or seizures.
  • An inability to wake up from sleep.
  • Enlargement of the pupil (dark center) of one or both eyes.
Nov 24, 2020

What are the common symptoms of traumatic brain injury? ›

Danger signs in adults
  • Have a headache that gets worse and does not go away.
  • Experience weakness, numbness, decreased coordination, convulsions, or seizures.
  • Vomit repeatedly.
  • Have slurred speech or unusual behavior.
  • Have one pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other.

How do you treat traumatic brain injury symptoms? ›

Mild traumatic brain injuries usually require no treatment other than rest and over-the-counter pain relievers to treat a headache. However, a person with a mild traumatic brain injury usually needs to be monitored closely at home for any persistent, worsening or new symptoms.

What is the most common cause of brain trauma? ›

People most commonly get TBIs from a fall, firearm-related injury, motor vehicle crash, or an assault. Research shows that: Falls lead to nearly half of the TBI-related hospitalizations. Firearm-related suicide is the most common cause of TBI-related deaths in the United States.

What are the top 3 causes of brain injury? ›

Among the leading causes of TBI are falls, motor vehicle crashes and traffic-related accidents, being struck by or against an object, and assaults.

What happens to the brain immediately after a traumatic brain injury? ›

TBI disturbs the delicate chemistry of the brain so that the neurons cannot function normally. This results in changes in thinking and behavior. It can take weeks and sometimes months for the brain to resolve the chemical imbalance that occurs with TBI.

What is the difference between traumatic head injury and traumatic brain injury? ›

A head injury is a broad term that describes a vast array of injuries that occur to the scalp, skull, brain, and underlying tissue and blood vessels in the head. Head injuries are also commonly referred to as brain injury, or traumatic brain injury (TBI), depending on the extent of the head trauma.

Does TBI show up on MRI? ›

About 80 percent of TBIs cannot be seen on an MRI or CT scan. The only other way to discover a TBI used to be neuropsychological or psychological testing - a fancy way of saying doctors ask patients questions or give them tasks to complete.

How long do traumatic brain injuries take to heal? ›

Recovery time varies but according to a study published by the National Library of Medicine, it can take up to two years to fully recover from a TBI. In some cases, it can take from five to 10 years to recover following the injury.

How long do traumatic brain injury symptoms last? ›

Moderate and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to a lifetime of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes.

Do you recover from a traumatic brain injury? ›

The prognosis for mild TBI is usually better than for a moderate TBI, and the prognosis for moderate TBI is usually better than for a severe TBI. With a concussion (mild TBI), most people recover most or all of their brain function within 3 months following injury, with most recovering sooner.

What not to do with traumatic brain injury? ›

Avoid activities that are physically demanding (e.g., heavy houscleaning, weightlifting/working-out) or require a lot of concentration (e.g., balancing your checkbook). They can make your symptoms worse and slow your recovery.

Do brain damaged people know they are brain damaged? ›

It is possible to have a brain injury without having symptoms, but they may surface weeks later. The patient may suddenly experience headaches or dizziness, and it is possible not to remember having the injury. The patient may also have mental health symptoms such as depression or anxiety. Or be more fatigued.

What condition is a patient with a traumatic brain injury most likely to suffer from? ›

The most common short-term complications associated with TBIs include cognitive impairment, difficulties with sensory processing and communication, immediate seizures, hydrocephalus, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leakage, vascular or cranial nerve injuries, tinnitus, organ failure, and polytrauma.

How do you test for traumatic brain injury? ›

Diagnosis of TBI

Assessment usually includes a neurological exam. This exam evaluates thinking, motor function (movement), sensory function, coordination, eye movement, and reflexes. Imaging tests, including CT scans and MRI scans, cannot detect all TBIs.

What mental illness is caused by brain injury? ›

So a TBI can affect your physical functions, thinking abilities, behaviors, and more. The injury can range from mild to severe, and it may increase your risk for mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, as well as sleeping problems.

What is the most serious type of brain injury? ›

Diffuse axonal injuries are one of the most severe types of traumatic brain injury. They occur when the brain is shaken or twisted inside the skull. As the brain twists, the cerebral tissue slides back and forth until the long connecting fibers in the brain (called axons) tear. Doctors refer to this as axonal shearing.

Why do brain injuries get worse? ›

Though the causes vary, two primary reasons why survivors may experience a decline after brain injury are secondary brain injuries and chemical changes in the brain. Secondary brain injuries are complications that may arise after initial injury, such as hematomas (blood clot), hypoxia (lack of oxygen), or infections.

What kind of pain is caused by brain injury? ›

About 50% of people who experience a traumatic brain injury (TBI) report also experiencing chronic pain. Chronic pain is about twice as common in individuals with mild TBI or post-concussion syndrome compared to individuals with more severe brain injuries.

What are 2 consequences of traumatic brain injury? ›

Some complications of TBI include seizures, nerve damage, blood clots, narrowing of blood vessels, stroke, coma, and infections in the brain.

Is a traumatic brain injury worse than a concussion? ›

Yes. A concussion is often referred to by doctors as a “mild TBI.” Both terms are used when a person experiences a change in normal brain function for no longer than a minutes following trauma. Concussions are usually not life-threatening, but their effects can be serious.

What is mild TBI or traumatic brain injury? ›

Most TBIs that occur each year are mild TBIs or concussions. A mild TBI or concussion is 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 quickly back and forth.

What is severe traumatic head injury? ›

What is severe TBI? TBI occurs when an outside force disrupts the brain's normal function. Falls, car crashes, assaults, and a blow or strike to the head are the most common causes of TBI. Severe TBI always includes a period of unconsciousness (uhn-KON-shuh s-nis).

What is the most severe complication of traumatic brain injury? ›

Blood Vessel Damage

After a traumatic brain injury, several small or large blood vessels in the brain may become damaged. This increases the risk of life-threatening conditions such as a stroke.

What is the best medicine for TBI? ›

Pain management medications are used to control pain stemming from TBI, and the symptoms and effects related to the injury. Examples include: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. NOTE: Overuse of over-the-counter and herbal pain medications may actually aggravate the condition.

What is the disability rating for TBI? ›

If the Veteran's TBI residuals qualify as “total” severity in any of the facets, then the veteran is entitled to a 100 percent disability rating. If the highest level of severity is a 3, then the disability rating will be 70 percent. If the highest level of severity is a 2, then 40 percent will be assigned.

What are the new treatments for traumatic brain injury? ›

Recent reviews have identified several therapeutic classes showing promise for the treatment of TBI [25]. These includes erythropoietin (EPO), carbamylated form of EPO (CEPO), statins, bone marrow stromal cells (MSC), methylphenidate, progesterone, dexanabinol, and rivastigmine [25].

What is the fastest recovery from TBI? ›

3-6 Months Post-TBI: Fastest Recovery Occurs

During the first six months after a TBI, the brain is in a heightened state of plasticity, or healing. This explains why the greatest gains in TBI recovery will usually occur within the first 3-6 months of therapy.

Do traumatic brain injuries get worse with age? ›

Ageing is associated with worse treatment outcome after traumatic brain injury (TBI). This association may lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy that affects treatment efficacy.

How long does it take brain to rewire after a brain injury? ›

The first six months is generally when you will see the most improvement after an injury, and then patients continue to progress for another several years. After this, progress tends to slow. This is because the damage remains, but the severe symptoms (like bleeding and swelling) have receeded.

What are the two types of traumatic brain injury? ›

Penetrating TBI typically damages only part of the brain. Non-penetrating TBI (also known as closed head injury or blunt TBI) is caused by an external force strong enough to move the brain within the skull. Causes include falls, motor vehicle crashes, sports injuries, blast injury, or being struck by an object.

What's it like living with a traumatic brain injury? ›

An individual with TBI may have difficulty focusing, paying attention, or attending to more than one thing at a time. Difficulty concentrating may lead to restlessness and being easily distracted or they may have difficulty finishing a project or working on more than one task at a time.

How do people with brain damage act? ›

Perhaps the most common behavioural change after brain injury is that of increased irritability. People with a brain injury are often impatient, intolerant of others' mistakes, and easily irritated by interruptions, such as noise from children or machinery, which disrupt their concentration.

Does the brain rewire itself after brain damage? ›

And the answer is yes. The brain is incredibly resilient and possesses the ability to repair itself through the process of neuroplasticity. This phenomenon is the reason why many brain injury survivors can make astounding recoveries.

How do doctors see brain damage? ›

Imaging Tests

A CT (or “CAT”) scan takes X-rays from many angles to create a complete picture of the brain. It can quickly show whether the brain is bleeding or bruised or has other damage. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI uses magnets and radio waves to produce more detailed images than CT scans.

What is the common name for traumatic brain injury? ›

A traumatic brain injury (TBI), also known as an intracranial injury, is an injury to the brain caused by an external force.

What are the long term symptoms of traumatic brain injury? ›

Severe TBI long-term effects may include:
  • Memory loss.
  • Headaches.
  • Seizures.
  • Dizziness.
  • Visual changes.
  • Fatigue.
  • Paralysis.
  • Balance problems.
Dec 6, 2021

What are some examples of traumatic brain injuries? ›

Some examples of traumatic brain injuries, include:
  • Concussion. Concussions are one of the more common traumatic brain injuries. ...
  • Edema. ...
  • Diffuse Axonal Injury. ...
  • Hematoma. ...
  • Skull Fracture. ...
  • Hemorrhage. ...
  • Hypoxic/anoxic Brain Injury. ...
  • Stroke.

What is considered a traumatic brain injury? ›

A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by physical trauma resulting from, but not limited to, incidents involving motor vehicles, sporting events, falls, and physical assaults.

What is the difference between brain injury and traumatic brain injury? ›

You may wonder what the difference between brain damage and traumatic brain injury is. Brain damage usually is non-traumatic, while traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the result of a blow to the head, often in an accident with negligence.

How does a person with brain damage act? ›

Perhaps the most common behavioural change after brain injury is that of increased irritability. People with a brain injury are often impatient, intolerant of others' mistakes, and easily irritated by interruptions, such as noise from children or machinery, which disrupt their concentration.

Can you fully recover from a traumatic brain injury? ›

Therefore, a full and functional TBI recovery is almost always possible, even though it might take several years of dedication. But in order to make this type of progress, you must take initiative. In fact, without consistent work, brain injury recovery can stall and even regress.

Do traumatic brain injuries heal? ›

With moderate TBI, most people recover most or all of their brain function, although neurosurgery, occupational/physical therapy, speech/language therapy, psychological services, and/or social services may be needed.

How long does it take to recover from traumatic brain injury symptoms? ›

The majority of patients with mild TBI have these symptoms and recover completely in a week to three months. If you are older than 40, it may take a bit longer to return to normal. Symptoms often disappear without any special treatment.

Can MRI show old brain injury? ›

An MRI can see subarachnoids hemorrhages, bleeding in the brain, old parts of brain damage that where parts of the brain have basically form scarring. That will show up on an MRI often.

Can a traumatic brain injury get worse? ›

These changes may affect a person's ability to function in their everyday life. Despite initial hospitalization and inpatient rehabilitation services, about 50% of people with TBI will experience further decline in their daily lives or die within 5 years of their injury.


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