Brain injury can cause mild impairment or complete inability to function that may be temporary or permanent. Injuries to the brain can also affect other bodily system functioning including blood pressure, temperature regulation, bladder control, and bowel movements. Common disabilities due to TBI include:
Having a solid personal support network is equally important for those living with a traumatic brain injury. When someone is affected by a TBI, their entire family is also often impacted. Depending on the severity of the injury, a person’s interpersonal relationships and social life may also be impacted. It is not uncommon to develop difficulty processing emotions, remembering loved ones, and be unable to engage in basic daily living activities such as bathing, eating, and cleaning. Family and friends are an important part of the ongoing rehabilitation process. Support groups are available for those suffering from TBI as well as their impacted loved ones.
Traumatic brain injuries gained mainstream interest due in large part to the service members returning home after sustaining wounds from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the height of the wars, 78% of all combat injuries reported were the result of explosive munitions. The concussive effects of these blasts made a mild TBI or concussion one of the most common combat-related injuries. In fact, approximately 15% of all U.S. troops who engaged in active combat in Iraq or Afghanistan may have suffered some level of traumatic brain injury.
- Traumatic Brian Injury from vehicular accident: Albert, 31, is an experienced police officer who recently endured a tragic motor vehicle crash while on duty. Albert hit his head on the steering wheel during the crash and lost consciousness. Albert was airlifted after the accident to a hospital where he had an MRI conducted to scan for internal damage. The MRI determined that Albert suffered a severe traumatic brain injury as part of the crash. Albert was transferred to a rehabilitation facility for the traumatic brain injury where physical therapists helped him work on regaining speech capability and motor function. He also sees a psychologist who is working to help him assess and regain some of his short-term memory functions. Albert will be on a structured treatment plan for a few months to assess his progress and what, if any, changes occur in his behavior.
- Traumatic Brain Injury from explosive munitions: Jessica, 23, is a former U.S. soldier who served time in Iraq. During a convoy escorting relief supplies to a village in Anbar province, she was injured in a roadside bomb attack. Jessica only suffered minor abrasions, but she was knocked unconscious by the improvised explosive device. Several months later, she returned home to Texas after being discharged from the military. She begins experiencing severe headaches and feels like no matter how much she sleeps, she still wakes up tired. Confused and angered by the conditions she is experiencing, Jessica starts feeling depressed and hopeless as her headaches grow more severe. Jessica finds it extremely difficult to get out of bed some days and has decided to make an appointment with her VA mental health counselor, who suspects her conditions are related the attack in Iraq, to schedule an MRI.
- Beatty, C. (2009, June 22). Interventions for behavioral problems after brain injury. Brainline.org. Retrieved from https://www.brainline.org/article/interventions-behavioral-problems-after-brain-injury
- Living with brain injury. (n.d.). Brain Injury Association of America. Retrieved from http://www.biausa.org/living-with-brain-injury.htm
- Rates of TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths by sex — United States, 2001–2010. (February 2014). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/data/rates_bysex.html
- Traumatic brain injury and PTSD. (n.d.). National Center for PTSD. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/problems/traumatic_brain_injury_and_ptsd.asp
- Traumatic brain injury information page. (n.d.). National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Retrieved from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tbi/tbi.htm
- Traumatic brain injury. (2014, May 15). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/traumatic-brain-injury/basics/treatment/con-20029302
- Traumatic brain injury. (n.d.). S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from http://www.publichealth.va.gov/docs/vhi/traumatic-brain-injury-vhi.pdf
- Traumatic brain injury. (2017, October 3). U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/traumaticbraininjury.html