TBI Frequently Asked Questions
What is Traumatic Brain Injury?
A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from mild, i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to severe, i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. The majority of TBIs that occur each year ar concussions or other forms of mild TBI.
How are brain injuries classified?
There are mild, moderate and severe head injuries. A person sustaining a mild head injury may or may not lose consciousness, but may experience some symptoms, even days after the injury which often go untreated. Moderate head injury may be characterized by being unconscious less than 24 hours and may require rehabilitation. Severe head injury survivors usually experience a coma, require rehabilitation, and often need outpatient care and/or long term care.
What are the main causes of brain injury?
The most frequent causes of brain injury are motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, gunshot injuries, stabbing injuries, and falls.
What are the leading causes of brain injury in children?
Causes of brain injury in children include falls, abuse, recreation accidents, and motor vehicle accidents. The youngest children are more often injured due to falls and abuse. For example, “Shaken Baby Syndrome” can cause brain injury in infants. Other examples include falls from shopping carts, accidents involving children in “walkers,” and falls from windows. Elementary school-age children are more often injured in recreational accidents, such as all-terrain vehicle and bicycle accidents (helmets significantly reduce the severity of injury in these cases). Teens and young adults are most often injured in motor vehicle crashes. Alcohol is a significant factor in many of these incidents.
When does rehabilitation begin after a traumatic brain injury?
Rehabilitation is the process of helping a person achieve his/her maximum functional potential. This process begins immediately, even when the injured person is in a coma. There may be problems related to movement, memory, attention, slowness of thinking, difficulties with speech and language, behavior problems, and personality changes. These problems, which may persist for a long time, are dealt with during rehabilitation.
Are all TBIs the same? What are the symptoms of TBI?
“TBI” is an umbrella term that spans a wide continuum of symptoms and severity. Symptoms can include: poor concentration, irritability, fatigue, depression, memory problems, headaches, anxiety, trouble thinking, dizziness, blurry/double vision and sensitivity to bright light. For people with brain injuries, the most rapid recovery occurs in the first six months after the injury, and in milder cases, patients will often be back to normal within three months. When several symptoms persist for three months or longer, the diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome can be considered.
Is recovery from head injury possible?
Yes, in contrast to the short time it takes to injure the brain, recovery is measured in weeks, months and even years. Recovery is most rapid shortly after the injury and slows down with the passage of time. Many people with severe head injuries end up with almost no noticeable problems, but others require constant care for the rest of their life.
What is brain stem injury?
The brain stem is the part of the brain that connects the larger portion of the brain with the rest of the body. Many functions are tightly packed in the brain stem and consequently it is quite susceptible to injury. Among other things, the brain stem controls consciousness, breathing, heart beat, eye movements, pupil reactions, swallowing and facial movements. Furthermore, all the sensations going to the brain, as well as the signals from the brain to the muscles, must pass through the brain stem. The brain stem is often damaged in severe head injuries, but it is almost never the only part of the brain which is injured.
Does it mean that all is well when the head injured person can leave the hospital and go home?
Many head injured persons have continued problems when they return to their home and family, particularly after severe head injuries producing prolonged coma. Problems with complex thinking, and with emotional instability and personality changes, are especially common. Both the head injured person and his/her family may be frustrated and disturbed by these continued difficulties. There may be setbacks in self-care and independence, or in progressing to a meaningful life style or livelihood. The rehabilitation team may suggest continued therapy as an outpatient, or as provided by a visiting therapist. Other resources exist which may assist the head injured person and his/her family to overcome the long-term problems which usually become apparent only when he/she returns home. One such resource is the Texas Head Injury Foundation which can provide emotional support to head injured people and their families and can help them find an appropriate rehabilitation setting.
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