Head injury / Brain injury
Brain injury may result from damage by some external
force, such as a fall or blow to the head.
It can happen to anyone at any age and may leave permanent physical handicaps.
Less obvious, and much harder for family and friends to cope with, are the
effects on personality and behavior.
The hardest time is often when the brain-injured patient returns home
and family and friends can feel bereft of support and very isolated with this
familiar yet very different person.
In fact there are many potential sources of help available, if
you know where to look.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI), a form of acquired brain injury, occurs when a
sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly
and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters
brain tissue. Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on
the extent of the damage to the brain. A person with a mild TBI may remain
conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or
minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include headache, confusion,
lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, ringing in the ears,
bad taste in the mouth, fatigue or lethargy, a change in sleep patterns,
behavioral or mood changes, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention,
or thinking. A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same
symptoms, but may also have a headache that gets worse or does not go away,
repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, an inability to awaken
from sleep, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, slurred speech, weakness
or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion,
restlessness, or agitation.
Anyone with signs of moderate or severe TBI should receive medical
attention as soon as possible. Because little can be done to reverse the
initial brain damage caused by trauma, medical personnel try to stabilize
an individual with TBI and focus on preventing further injury. Primary
concerns include insuring proper oxygen supply to the brain and the rest
of the body, maintaining adequate blood flow, and controlling blood
pressure. Imaging tests help in determining the diagnosis and prognosis of
a TBI patient. Patients with mild to moderate injuries may receive skull
and neck X-rays to check for bone fractures or spinal instability. For
moderate to severe cases, the imaging test is a computed tomography
(CT) scan. Moderately to severely injured patients receive
rehabilitation that involves individually tailored treatment programs in
the areas of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language
therapy, physiatry (physical medicine), psychology/psychiatry, and social
Brain Injury Resource Center
Brain Injury Association of America
Spinal Cord Injury Resource page has many useful links