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Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) have a serious effect on a person’s health and life.

A traumatic brain injury can change who you are. Like other injuries, it can take years to recover and in some cases, a person never fully recovers. However, unlike other injuries, TBI can alter a person’s identity. A person’s brain plays an important role in who they are. This type of injury doesn’t just limit what you can do, like other injuries, it can alter your mental abilities and your personality.

No two TBI are the same and recovery is unpredictable. It’s common to experience both immediate symptoms and long-term symptoms, so there’s no way to tell exactly how a TBI will affect someone. Sometimes, the injured party doesn’t even realize an injury has occurred.

Though a TBI might not seem serious when it occurs, it can be one of the most devastating events in a person’s life.

What is TBI?

TBI stands for traumatic brain injury. It includes injuries that are caused by sudden damage to the brain that affects a person’s cognitive abilities and physical functioning. It does not include any type of brain injuries that are degenerative, congenital, hereditary, or that are induced by disease, birth injuries, or exposure to toxic substances.

TBI includes both closed and open brain injuries, meaning the injury can occur with or without penetration of the skull.

In order to receive a diagnosis of TBI, one or more of the following must be present:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss regarding time immediately before or after injury
  • Confusion or disorientation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate there are about three million people who visit the emergency room every year for TBI.

How Does TBI Occur?

A person can experience TBI in any situation that causes an injury to their brain. The most common incidents that lead to TBI include:

  • Falls
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Struck by the incident (any event that causes a person’s head to be hit by or again an object)
  • Shaking
  • Penetration

It can be difficult to determine if a person has suffered a TBI, especially when there is no visible injury. Symptoms of TBI vary a great deal and include:

  • A potential loss of consciousness
  • A headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Speech problems
  • Difficulty falling or staying sleeping
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Problems with balance
  • Blurry vision
  • Hearing a ringing
  • Foul taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty smelling
  • Sensitive to light or sound
  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • Changes in mood
  • Depression or anxiety

Moderate to severe TBI cause additional symptoms, including:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Ongoing headaches that may increase in severity
  • Ongoing nausea
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Pupil dilation
  • Clear fluid leaking from the nose or ears
  • Difficulty awakening
  • Weak or numb feelings in the hands or feet
  • Lack of coordination
  • Extreme confusion
  • Agitation, hostility, or other out of the ordinary behavior
  • Slurring of speech
  • Coma

It’s important to note that even minor TBI can cause lasting damage. Furthermore, repeated TBI increases the likelihood a person will suffer lifelong damage.

Closed head TBI might not appear serious because there is no immediate visible damage. However, if a person’s brain swells as the result of an injury, it can create additional damage. Closed head TBI are unseen injuries that can alter a person’s life forever. It can affect the victim’s career, personal relationships, income potential, and overall quality of life.

Depending on the area of the brain effect, he or she might lose the ability to perform certain tasks. Brain injuries have the ability to completely change someone’s personality and cause problems with reasoning, memory, and temperament.

TBI also increases a person’s risk for serious diseases in the future, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.

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