Traumatic brain injury occurs when an external force causes trauma to the brain. Traumatic brain injury usually results from a blow or jolt to the head or body. An object penetrating the skull can also cause a traumatic brain injury. Mild traumatic brain injury may cause temporary trauma to the brain cells while more serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues bleeding swelling and other long-term complications.
Immediately after a traumatic brain injury, the brain tissue responds to the trauma with chemical and biological responses. The substances that were once safely housed within the cells now flood the brain. These processes further damage the brain and destroy cells. The first few days after trauma other negative changes will happen such as breathing problems and motor function problems. As people regain consciousness they may experience irritability, aggression and other problems such as post-traumatic amnesia. Post-traumatic amnesia is where a person feels confused and disoriented. As time passes the brain tries to reach stability but unlike bone and muscles, the brain’s neurons do not mend themselves. New nerves will grow but not in the same ways.
There are several ways for doctors to tell the severity of injury to the brain such as the Glasgow Coma Scale and The Rancho Los Amigos Scale. The Glasgow Coma Scale measures eyes, motor and verbal responses and scores the results between a scale of 3 to 15, with the indicating the deepest level of a coma
The Rancho Los Amigos Scale can determine how long recovery can take. The progress seen during the immediate recovery period in individuals with severe to moderate traumatic brain injury is often tracked using the Rancho Los Amigos Scale, which is measured in eight levels – from the levels of unconsciousness to levels of productivity. These levels of recovery of functioning reflect processes within the brain, as it attempts to heal. Depending on the severity of the brain injury patients can stay at one level for very long periods of time or indefinitely.
Symptoms of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury;
- Loss of consciousness
- nausea or vomiting
- excessive sleepiness and dizziness.
- blurred vision,
- ringing or other noises in the ears
- sensitivity to light
- memory or concentration problems
- changes in mood.
Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries;
- Loss of consciousness,
- Severe head pain
- repeated vomiting
- convulsions or seizures,
- dilation of one or both eyes
- clear fluids or blood coming from the nose or ears.
- Inability to regain consciousness
- weakness or numbness in fingers and toes and
- loss of coordination.
Symptoms in children
It may be harder to recognize a head injury in small children because of their ability to communicate. It is important to see a doctor if a child has received a blow to the head that may cause concern even mild injury to the brain can be a serious injury. The signs include;
- change in eating or nursing habits
- persistent crying
- unusual irritability
- change in sleep habits
- loss of interest in favorite toys or activities.
In the event that Severe head trauma has taken place it is important to see medical attention as soon as possible. The longer a person waits more damage that is being done to the brain.