Brain Injury Glossary
Acute – sharp, severe. Having rapid onset, severe symptoms and a short course. The early stages of an injury (as opposed to chronic, which is long term).
Amnesia – lack of memory about events occurring during a particular period of time.
Aneurysm – a balloon-like deformity in the wall of a blood vessel. The wall weakens as the balloon grows larger, and may eventually burst, causing a hemorrhage.
Anomia – inability to recall names of objects. Persons with this problem often can speak fluently but have to use other words to describe familiar objects.
Anoxia – a lack of oxygen. Cells of the brain need oxygen to stay alive. When blood flow to the brain is reduced or when oxygen in the blood is too low, brain cells are damaged.
Anterior – front.
Antero-lateral – front and to the side.
Antero-posterior – gront and to the back.
Antibody – a protein produced by the immune system to attack bacteria, viruses or other invading disease producing agents. Each antibody has a molecular structure that exactly fits the structure of each foreign body (antigen) like a key and a lock. Antibodies are carried in the blood. It is also common to add antibodies to treat specific disease antigens if we lack immunities to them (vaccination).
Antidepressant – a drug prescribed to treat depression; standard tricyclic antidepressants include Tofranil, Imvate, Elavil, Norpramin, and Adapin. Side effects include some sedation, dry mouth, and visual problems.
Aphasia – the change in language function due to an injury to the cerebral cortex of brain. It causes partial or total loss of ability to express oneself and/or to understand language.
Apraxia – the inability to produce voluntary speech due to a deficit in motor (muscle) programming caused by brain damage.
Arachnoid Membrane – the middle of three membranes protecting the brain and spinal cord.
Brain – The brain has many parts including the cerebral cortex, brain stem and cerebellum. The brain is a very complex organ, it regulates every aspect of human behavior. Everything about ourselves and the environment is experienced through the brain.
Brainstem – the lower extension of the brain where it connects to the spinal cord. Neurological functions located in the brainstem include those necessary for survival (breathing, heart rate) and for arousal (being awake and alert).
Central Nervous System (CNS) – the CNS includes the brain and spinal cord. The prevailing theory is that CNS cells won’t repair themselves. Experiments show, however, that CNS nerves can re-grow and reconnect to appropriate targets. A clinical “fix” for spinal cord injury has not yet been found.
Cerebellum – the portion of the brain (located in the back) that helps coordinate movement. Damage may result in Ataxia.
Cerebrospinal Fluid – a colorless solution similar to plasma protecting the brain and spinal cord from shock. CSF circulates through the subarachnoid space. For diagnosis purposes, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is used to draw CSF.
Cervical – the upper spine (neck) area of the vertebral column. Cervical injuries often result in quadriplegia (tetraplegia).
Closed Head Injury – trauma to the head regardless of severity.
Cognition – the mental process involved in knowing, thinking, learning and judging.
Cognitive Dissonance – individual awareness of inconsistencies in thoughts, feelings, rationale and opinions.
Cognitive Function – an intellectual process by which a person becomes aware of, perceives or understands ideas.
Cognitive Process – higher mental functioning; learning, memory, imagination, comprehension, decision making. The means by which an individual becomes aware of people, objects and situations in the environment and their subjective, symbolic meaning.
Cognitive Rehabilitation – therapy programs which aid persons in the management of specific problems in thinking and perception. Skills are practiced and strategies are taught to help improve function and/or compensate for remaining deficits.
Coma – a state of profound unconsciousness. A state of unconsciousness from which the person is incapable of any conscious action. Typically, they do not respond to powerful stimulation; lack of any response to one’s environment.
Complete Lesion – an injury with no motor or sensory function below the zone of cord destruction at the site of primary trauma.
Concussion – a violent blow, jarring, shaking or other non penetrating injury to the brain. Frequently, but not always, accompanied by a loss of consciousness. Also called Minor Head Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury.
Contusion – a bruising of the neural tissues of the brain.
Decerebrate Posture – (Decerebrate Rigidity) – exaggerated posture or extension as a result of a lesion to the prepontine area of the brainstem, and is rarely seen fully developed in humans.
Decerebration – removal of the brain or cutting the spinal cord at the level of the brain stem.
Decorticate Posture – (Decorticate Rigidity) exaggerated posture of upper extremity flexion and lower extremity extension as a result of a lesion to the mesencephalon or above.
Decortication – the removal of the surface layer of an organ or structure, as the removal of a portion of the cortex of the brain from the underlying white portion.
Depression – an abnormal emotional state in which the individual experiences an exaggerated feeling of sadness, worthlessness and hopelessness, inappropriate and out of proportion to some personal loss or tragedy.
Destabilization – an abnormal emotional response to physical or mental trauma in which the individual is rendered unable to adjust to his or her normal roles. Individuals who become psychologically destabilized can manifest subjective cognitive impairments that mimic brain injury.
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI) – a shearing injury of large nerve fibers (axons covered with myelin) in many areas of the brain. It appears to be one of the two primary lesions of brain injury, the other being stretching or shearing of blood vessels from the same forces, producing hemorrhage.
Diffuse Brain Injury – injury to cells in many areas of the brain rather than in one specific location.
Frontal Lobe – front part of the brain; involved in planning, organizing, problem solving, selective attention, personality and a variety of “higher cognitive functions.”
Ganglion – a mass of nervous tissue composed principally of nerve-cell bodies and lying outside the brain or spinal cord.
Glasgow Coma Scale – a standardized system used to assess the degree of brain impairment and to identify the seriousness of injury in relation to outcome.
Head Injury – any traumatic injury to the head regardless of severity. Types of head injury include penetration of the skull by a foreign object such as a bullet. Others result from a blow to the head as in an impact injury. Others are caused by a violent shaking pr whiplash of the head.
Hematoma – the collection of blood in tissues or a space following rupture of a blood vessel. Epidural – Outside the brain and its fibrous covering, but under the skull. Subdural – Between the brain and its fibrous covering. Intracerebral – In the brain tissue.
Intracranial Pressure (ICP) – cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) pressure measured from a needle or bolt introduced into the CSF space surrounding the brain. It reflects the pressure inside of the skull.
Intracranial Pressure Monitor – an ICP monitor. A monitoring device to determine the pressure within the brain. It consists of a small tube (catheter) attached to the person at the skull by either a ventriculostomy, subarachnoid bolt, or screw, and is then connected to a transducer, which registers the pressure.
Long Term Memory – an ability to easily recall feelings, events, ideas and other information which may have happened a long time ago.
Major Head Injury – trauma to the brain resulting in loss of consciousness.
Memory – the ability of the brain to retain and recall information.
Minor Head Injury – trauma to the head regardless of severity that does not necessarily result in the loss of consciousness. Frequently called Concussion, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Closed Head Injury.
Open Head Injury – trauma to the brain resulting in loss of consciousness due to the penetration of the brain by a foreign object such as a bullet. Also called Major Head Injury, Acute Head Injury, or Severe Head Injury.
Parietal Lobe – one of the two parietal lobes of the brain located behind the frontal lobe at the top of the brain.
Parietal Lobe, Right – damage of this area can cause visuo-spatial deficits (e.g., the person may have difficulty finding their way around new or familiar places).
Parietal Lobe, Left – damage to this area may disrupt a person’s ability to understand spoken and/or written language.
Post Concussion Syndrome – a particular group of impairments that characterize the effects of injury on the brain and behavior. PCS include impairments in the ability to think, to do, and to know.
Posterior – Back.
Regeneration – in brain or spinal cord injury, regeneration is the regrowth of nerve fiber tissue by way of some as yet unknown biologic process. In the peripheral system, nerves do regenerate after damage, and reform functional connections.
Rehabilitation – a sequence of services built around the problems of a disabled individual and designed to restore optimum physical, psychological, social and vocational levels of function.
Subcortical – The region beneath the cerbral cortex.
Subdural – beneath the dura (tough membrane) covering the brain and spinal cord.
Temporal Lobes- there are two temporal lobes, one on each side of the brain, at about the level of the ears. These lobes allow a person to tell one smell from another and one sound from another. They also help in sorting out new information and are believed to be responsible for short-term memory.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – an injury to the brain regardless of severity.
Ventricles- four natural cavities in the brain which are filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
Brain Injury Information
- Anatomy of the Brain
- Brain Injury Glossary
- Brain Injury Prevention
- Brain Injury Statistics
- Children’s Brain Injuries
- Common Causes of TBI
- Concussion Checklist
- Effects of Brain Injury
- Emotional Changes Associated with Brain Injury
- Financial Costs of Brain Injuries
- Football Brain Injuries
- Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
- Symptoms of Brain Injury
- TBI Frequently Asked Questions
- Treatment for TBI
- What is Traumatic Brain Injury?
- What To Do After a Concussion