- Loss of consciousness for a few minutes only
- Headache and/or neck pain
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Bad taste in mouth
- Trouble with memory and concentrating
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Behavioral changes
A person with a moderate to severe TBI will typically exhibit some symptoms of a mild brain injury in addition to some of the following:
- Persistent headache
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Dilated pupils
- Weakness or numbness in extremities
- Slurred speech
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Loss of coordination
- Restlessness or agitation
Anyone who experiences a head injury and shows signs of a moderate or severe injury should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Imaging tests are used to confirm diagnosis and prognosis of traumatic brain injury. Health care professionals may conduct a neurological exam, skull and neck X-rays, or a CT scan to determine the extent and severity of any injury.
Research on the causes and effects of traumatic brain injury in the U.S. is increasing as these injuries rise. Researchers are focused on discovering effective treatments for TBIs, and at this time, treatment for moderate to severe TBIs can include medical procedures, medications, speech or physical therapy, or psychotherapy.
Emergency care is recommended for people with moderate to severe injuries. The sooner a person with a TBI seeks treatment, the better their prognosis is likely to be. Although little can be done to reverse the effects of the injury, medical professionals will try to stabilize the patient and prevent further injury and inflammation. Medications such as diuretics, anti-seizure drugs, and coma-inducing medicines can be administered to prevent secondary injuries.
There are several recommended therapy choices when it comes to traumatic brain injuries. One of the most effective methods is psychotherapy without the use of surgeries or psychotropic medications. However, this is usually only possible when the traumatic brain injury is mild to moderately severe. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), insight oriented therapy, relaxation training, development of social skills, and anger management can also be useful in helping a person understand and accept the injury as well as adjust relationships and roles after the injury, when necessary.
Although there are many avenues for treatment, one constant is the importance of good health care providers. Lisa Danylchuck, LMFT, E-RYT, a psychotherapist who specializes in trauma, adds, “Neuroimaging can help, but often people come away from this treatment with as many questions as answers. For this reason, having providers who are empathetic and committed to seeking solutions for clients’ challenges is an important aspect of recovery.”
When a traumatic brain injury occurs, the functioning of neurons, nerve tracts, and entire sections of the brain can be affected, depending on the location and severity of the injury. When neurons and nerve tracts are impacted, the brain is often unable to function as usual. This can lead to changes in the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves. According to Danylchuck, “The challenge for people coping with TBI is that the brain plays a significant and complicated role in mood stability. It can be difficult to differentiate the source of mental and emotional challenges.”