With a recent rash of serious car crashes and with school football season now in session, I thought it important for my readers to know what a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is, and how it is diagnosed.
Definition of a traumatic brain injury
A TBI, as I have explained in a previous article, is a dysfunction of the brain, and can be caused by a sudden jolt, a violent blow to the head or body, or caused by an object that penetrates the brain, like a bullet.
TBIs vary in intensity. It is a complex injury with a wide spectrum of symptoms and disabilities. For example, a mild concussion is sometimes considered a mild traumatic brain injury, and normally a fully recovery can be expected. Those with more severe traumatic brain injuries can be disabled for life, or die as a consequence.
Three main causes of TBI
There are three main causes of TBIs.
- Open Head Injuries: There is penetration through the skull, like a bullet wound.
- Closed Head Injuries: There is no penetration through the skull and the injury occurs in a specific location. Can occur as a result of a motor vehicle accident, a sports injury, a slip and fall, etc.
- Sudden Deceleration Injuries: These occur when a person is subjected to a sudden slowing down of their body. In a head-on car accident, for example, the skull moves through space and when there is a sudden discontinuation of this movement, it causes the brain to move inside the skull. The skull is hard and the brain is soft, so a traumatic brain injury occurs when the brain hits the skull. The injuries can occur in several different parts of the brain.
- Other causes of TBIs include strokes, infections, tumors, hypoxia (lack of oxygen), and chemical and/or toxic exposure.
How a traumatic brain injury is diagnosed
When a person is in an accident, there may be several life-threatening injuries and the focus can be on lifesaving measures. Nonetheless, for anyone suspected of having a traumatic brain injury, even from what seems like a minor accident, early diagnosis is essential.
The following are several methods of diagnosis.
- A detailed neurological examination
- Brain imaging (CAT scan, MRI, PET, etc.)
- Cognitive evaluation by a neuropsychologist with formal neuropsychological testing
- Evaluations of physical, occupational and speech therapists
TBI can be devastating to its victims and their families, so a quick diagnosis is essential. Even a mild brain concussion can lead to a serious medical condition. A diagnosis may prevent further brain injury. The faster the better.
If you have any questions about traumatic brain injuries, please call me. Consultations are always free.
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Little Rock, AR 72206
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