What is Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?
A traumatic brain injury is any injury to the brain that’s sustained through forceful movement or impact. TBIs can be categorized into three types—mild, moderate, and severe. Moderate and severe TBIs are often marked by initial confusion or loss of consciousness, while mild TBIs—most commonly referred to as concussions—often result in a mere momentary daze, although often manifest later in the form of post-concussion syndrome.
How does TBI occur?
Car accidents and falls are the leading causes of traumatic brain injury—making up more than half of reported cases—but they can occur as a result of fights, sports injuries, or any other occurrence in which the head is struck by an object, pierced by an object, or shaken.
What are the symptoms of TBI?
The symptoms of TBI look different for everyone, and they depend on the degree of head injury; however, no matter the degree, they typically have physical, emotional or behavioral, and cognitive manifestations.
While the particular combination of symptoms is unique to each person who sustains a TBI, it generally is some compound of the following symptoms.
Common physical symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Sleep problems
- Ringing in the ears
- Balance difficulties
- Significant fatigue
Common emotional or behavioral symptoms:
- Decreased patience
- Low motivation
- Personality changes
Common cognitive symptoms:
- Memory difficulties
- Mental inefficiency
- Tendency toward cognitive overwhelm
- Difficulty concentrating
- Speech and word-memory problems
- Limited strategic or organizational thinking
How is TBI Diagnosed?
Because of the diverse range of traumatic brain injuries and the variation in symptom onset, it isn’t always apparent when a TBI has been sustained. If you’ve recently been in an accident and suffered a blow to the head and you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms—or are otherwise experiencing noticeable changes to your health—it’s advisable to see a medical professional right away.
If you are in fact experiencing a TBI, the best thing you can do is seek treatment immediately. The sooner you begin aiding your body in recovery, the better—and more efficiently—your body is able to repair itself.
How do you treat TBI?
If you’re experiencing TBI, it’s important that you limit your activities as you heal. This means refraining from taking on extra jobs and responsibilities, temporarily reassigning some of your current responsibilities, limiting the number of hours you work, and getting enough rest.
Here are a few specific strategies for conserving your energy each day:
- Schedule rest breaks throughout the day.
- When you return home from work, go straight to your bedroom or other private space, and spend 20 minutes resting with your eyes closed—without any distractions.
Do not read a magazine, watch TV, open the mail, pet the dog, talk to your spouse, read your text messages, or fold the laundry. Simply lie down, and rest.
- Hire someone to do your grocery shopping for you; or order in advance online or over the phone.
Here are some strategies for improving your cognitive function as you heal:
- Use a notebook, daytimer, and or mobile app to record important information that you need to remember.
- Carry a small notepad with you wherever you go, and write down new information.
- Wear a watch that beeps every hour to remind you to check-in with your daytimer.
- Ask people to repeat or explain things more simply whenever necessary.
While these methods can provide some relief and help you to cope, it’s important to seek additional treatment—especially if you’re experiencing a moderate-to-severe TBI.
The good news is that there are plenty of treatment options available, including treatment with us at The Brain and Behavior Clinic. We have over 35 years of experience diagnosing, treating, supporting, and advocating for people with traumatic brain injuries.
We’ll work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your unique set of physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms and that gets you back to your optimal brain health and cognitive function.
Schedule a consultation with one of our physicians!
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