What to Know about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injury occurs when one suffers a violent jolt or blow to their head or body. An object that goes through the brain tissue, like shattered pieces of the skull or a bullet can also result in TBI. TBI symptoms can be mild, moderate, or even severe, based on the extent of brain damage. Mild cases may cause a short change of consciousness or mental state, while severe ones may lead to extended periods of unconsciousness, long-term complications and sometimes, death.

TBI is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the US. Surveys reveal that these injuries account for up to 30% of all injury deaths. Each day, 150+ people in the US succumb to injuries that include TBI. As mentioned earlier, those surviving can have symptoms that last a few days, or for as long as they live. Examples of TBI effects include, but are not limited to impaired movement, memory or thinking, emotional functioning (depression, personality changes) or sensation (hearing or vision). These problems don’t just affect victims of TBI, but their family and community as well.

TBI includes different kinds of injury to the brain. Here are some examples.

A contusion is a form of brain injury where one sustains a bruise on the brain tissue where the tissue mixes with blood coming from the broken blood vessels. The condition can arise when the brain shakes against the skull due to sports, a car accident, or shaken baby syndrome. Similar to bruises in other tissues, contusion can be linked to multiple microhemorrhages. This condition happens in 20-30% of serious head injuries.

A skull fracture is a break in the skull bone. It’s classified into four groups including; linear skull fractures where there’s a break in the bone, but the bone remains intact. A depressed skull fracture is where a part of the skull sinks due to trauma. Diastatic skull fracture happens along the skull’s suture lines. Basilar skull fracture involves a break in the bone at the skull’s base and is characterized by bruises around the eyes and ears.

Anoxia happens when the brain is deprived of oxygen. When there is no oxygen flowing to the brain, the neural cells start to die through apoptosis. And while cell death is normal, if many cells die at one go, the victim can suffer a diminished brain function.

An intracranial hematoma is a collection of blood within the skull, often due to a rupture of a major blood vessel in the brain. It can also occur when one suffers trauma due to a fall or accident.


TBI can have a vast range of psychological and physical effects, with some signs appearing immediately after the event, while others pop days or weeks later. Some symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Loo of consciousness
  • Light and sound sensitivity
  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures
  • Sad or depressed moods
  • Unusual irritability
  • Slurred speech
  • Profound confusion
  • Coma
  • Loss of coordination
  • Repeated nausea or vomiting
  • Numbness or weakness in fingers and toes

When to see a doctor

According to one doctor from Intermountain Medical Imaging, patients should seek help when they get a blow to the head or body that concerns them or leads to changes in behavior. One should get immediate care if they notice any or a combination of the above symptoms after an accident or blow. But it’s critical to ensure that the doctor is qualified to handle the situation.

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