Brain Injury & Trauma

Seeing stars after a serious bump to your head is common. But more serious symptoms can be cause for concern. If you suddenly feel less coordinated, are having difficulty remembering simple things or thinking clearly, or if friends or family say you’re not acting quite the same, you should see your doctor. You may have traumatic brain injury, or brain damage caused by a trauma.

Overview

Symptoms

The effects of a traumatic brain injury vary depending on how serious your injury is:

  • Mild brain injury can produce a temporary loss of consciousness, dizziness, vomiting, sensitivity to light, mood changes, headaches or fatigue.
  • Moderate brain injury causes many of the same symptoms, but they’re often more severe. You might also experience extreme confusion or anxiety, slurred speech, a lack of coordination, numbness in your fingers and dilated pupils. In some cases, a clear fluid may drain from your nose or ears.
  • Severe brain injury typically results from a serious blow to the head or body, and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms are similar to those caused by a moderate brain injury, but you may also have bleeding, bruising or torn brain tissues, which can lead to death.

Diagnosis

The Glasgow Coma Scale is a 15-point screening that helps your medical team assess the severity of your injury. It provides an objective way to check a person’s consciousness.  

After a head injury, your doctor may recommend either a CT scan or MRI, depending on the seriousness of your condition. CT scans are typically used in emergency cases and will show any skull fractures, bleeding, bruising, swelling or blood clots. MRIs are used in non-emergency situations or after your condition has stabilized. Doctors may also check for swelling by assessing pressure in your skull. 

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Treatment Options

Mild brain injuries are typically treated with rest and over-the-counter pain relievers to ease your headaches. Friends or family members should check on you to make sure your symptoms are not getting worse. Your doctor will let you know when it’s safe to get back to your normal activities.

Moderate and severe brain injuries usually require intensive care. Your doctors will monitor you and may prescribe medications to limit additional brain damage. 

If you have severe brain damage, you could need emergency surgery. It can take time to fully heal from these types of brain injuries, but brain rehabilitation therapy may help limit long-term symptoms.


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