Signs and Symptoms of TBI. Traumatic Brain Injury Explained

Signs and Symptoms of TBI. Traumatic Brain Injury explained


Traumatic brain injuries occur any time there is a traumatic injury sustained to the brain. Usually, traumatic brain types injuries result from violent blows to the head or any time a foreign object is forced into the brain. Organic objects can cause this type of damage as well; for example, skull fragments being pushed into the brain can cause traumatic brain injury.

Mild brain injury may affect the cells in the brain temporarily. However, more-serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding, and other physical damage to the brain. These types of injuries can result in long-term complications, even causing death in some cases.  

What Is TBI

Traumatic brain injury can be defined as a sudden injury that causes damage to the brain. TBI can be a jolt, blow, or bump to the head resulting in a closed head injury. TBI can also happen when one or more objects penetrate the skull, called a penetrating injury.

traumatic brain injury-TBI-image of brain

A more mild, common type of TBI is the concussion. Although concussions can range from mild to severe, most people usually recover in time without long-lasting residual symptoms.

TBI Meaning

It can be scary to hear terms like traumatic brain injury, and it’s important to know what the terms mean. TBI stands for traumatic brain injury, and it means that there has been mild to severe damage caused to the brain.

Symptoms of TBI

Symptoms of TBI vary with the degree of symptomology and can range from mild to moderate to severe. For example, the symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury can consist of changes in emotions or sleep patterns. More moderate and severe forms of traumatic brain injury might include symptoms like unconsciousness lasting 30 minutes or longer.

When it comes to TBI, there are the following types of symptoms: physical, sensory, and cognitive.

Physical Symptoms  

In general, physical symptoms like dizziness, blurry vision, vomiting, and headache will accompany a traumatic brain injury.

Sensory Symptoms   

Sensory symptoms of TBI consist of ringing in the ears, trouble speaking coherently, and could also include tingling sensations on the skin.

Cognitive Or Mental Symptoms                 

TBI also includes cognitive or mental symptoms. These include; confusion and disorientation, problems remembering new information, and an inability to remember the cause of the injury or events directly before or after the injury occurred.

Complications With TBI                 

In the days and weeks following a traumatic brain injury, a patient might experience the following complications:

  •  Increased intracranial pressure (ICP): This causes the pressure inside the brain to increase to dangerous levels.
  •  Edema: This is a type of swelling that occurs when the brain contains more fluid than usual. Pressure increasing due to the swelling can result in damage to brain cells
  •  Hydrocephalus: Also known as “water on the brain,” hydrocephalus happens when cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) collects in the ventricles.
  •  Low blood pressure: Without enough blood, brain function can quickly recede.
  •  Fever: Injury to the parts of the brain that regulate temperature may cause high fever
  •  Pneumonia: Not being able to move around increases the risk of a patient getting pneumonia.
  •  Brain infection: Although brain infections can be treated with antibiotics or surgery, they are severe and life-threatening.
  •  Blood clots: Being immobile slows down blood flow, which increases the probability of developing blood clots.

Causes Of TBI

Traumatic brain injuries are caused by damage to the brain resulting from a hit or knock to the head.  While any strong jolt can cause a TBI, the leading causes of TBI related deaths include automobile accidents, suicides, falls, and crashes.

When To See A Doctor                    

Any type of injury to the brain is severe, and medical attention should be sought whenever there is an indication or concern of traumatic brain injury. 

Altered Consciousness                     

A TBI can result in several alterations of consciousness, including; coma, vegetative state, minimally conscious state, and brain dead. 

Physical Complications       

  • Seizures
  • A state of being confused, dazed, or disoriented
  • Severe headache, either short-lasting or lasting a long time
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Hydrocephalus
  • vertigo

Intellectual Problems

traumatic brain injury-TBI-image of brain

People who experience a traumatic brain injury (TMI) can suffer a whole host of intellectually related problems from memory to learning, reasoning, and judgment. People who develop intellectual problems as a result of TMI also generally have executive functioning problems involving problem-solving, multitasking, organization, planning, decision making, and beginning/completing tasks.                       

Communication Problems  

There are three primary groups when it comes to communication problems and people who have experienced a TBI.

  • Non-fluent aphasia, AKA motor aphasia, in which TBI patients have trouble recalling words and speaking in complete sentences.
  • Fluent aphasia, AKA Wernicke’s aphasia, is a condition in which TBI patients display little meaning in their speech, which consists of gibberish even though they speak in complete sentences and use correct grammar.
  • Global aphasia is a condition where a patient has extensive damage to the parts of their brain responsible for language. These patients often suffer severe communication problems

Behavioral Changes 

Changes in behavior after a TBI may include:

  • Aggressiveness, frustration, or increased anger
  • Difficulties controlling the self or acting impulsively
  • Poor judgment, or not being able to understand a situation.
  • Decreased ability to initiate a conversation or activity
  • Lack of initiation
  • Repetitive behaviors (this is known as perseveration)
  • Less useful or ineffective social skills
  • Changes in sexual behaviors
  • Impaired self-awareness about how TBI impacts self and others
  • Apathy or indifference
  • Suspiciousness
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • New behaviors of smoking, drinking alcohol, or other substance use             

Emotional Changes  

Emotional changes that are often observed with TBI include:

  • Depression
  • Increased anxiety
  • Mood swings (this is known as emotional lability)
  • Changes in self-esteem
  • Apathy or indifference

TBI Data and Statistics                   

  • 35% of TBI cases result from falls
  • 17% of TBI cases result from auto-related motor vehicle accidents
  • 17% of TBI cases result from strikes or blows to the head, such as those that occur during sports injuries
  • 11% of TBI results from an assault

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