You can never know too much information (TMI) regarding traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Whether you’re learning about preventing TBIs or talking with your doctor about symptoms of a head injury, the more information, the better you can prevent and identify one.
What is a TBI?
This is a type of brain injury caused by a blow or jolt to, or penetration of, the head. A TBI can occur during a car accident, from being tackled during a football game, or a fall. After a TBI, nerve cells in the brain may be damaged, impacting the central nervous system. The neurons may have trouble doing their job carrying signals to different parts of the brain.
Not all head injuries are TBIs; a head injury can be mild or severe. Symptoms can range from a headache to loss of consciousness. If a head injury does not affect the brain, it is considered a minor head injury. Mild TBIs are commonly known as concussions. Knowing the symptoms of a TBI can help you identify when it’s time to go to the hospital emergency department.
Symptoms of a TBI
Traumatic brain injuries can cause a variety of symptoms depending on the severity and location of the injury. Sometimes, the symptoms may not show up right away. Your healthcare provider will ask you questions about how the injury occurred and which symptoms you are experiencing, including:
- Loss of consciousness
- Difficulty concentrating or thinking
- Memory loss
- Mood or personality changes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Change in sleep patterns
- Trouble waking
- Coordination problems
- Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
Learning what puts you at risk for TBIs is the best prevention strategy. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, especially for children under 14 and adults 65 and older. The following recommendations can help prevent severe head injuries:
- Follow safe driving practices and always wear a seatbelt.
- Wear the correct equipment and safety gear during sporting and work activities.
- Never work on a ladder if you feel dizzy or lightheaded.
For mature adults:
- Have your vision checked at least once a year.
- Avoid walking in poorly lit or cluttered areas.
- Install non-slip flooring and handrails in the bathroom.
- Never shake a baby.
- Use safety gates and window guards to keep children safe from falling down stairs or out of windows.
- Always buckle your child into the appropriate car seat.
Severe head injuries require emergency care. If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of a TBI or has recently experienced blunt trauma to the head, visit your nearest emergency services provider. CHI St. Luke’s Health Emergency Departments are equipped to treat traumatic brain injuries and are conveniently located throughout the Greater Houston area.