What is the medical term TBI? TBI stands for Traumatic brain injury, it is a serious injury caused by some type of trauma to the head. There are two types of head trauma or categories of head trauma, penetrating and closed head trauma.
Penetrating, as the name implies, is when something has forcibly broken through the protective skull bone, like a bullet, and has penetrated the brain.
Closed head trauma, results from blunt force trauma to the head, like the head hitting a windshield in a car accident, but nothing enters the brain itself.
Both can lead to major damage that can have a multitude of affects ranging from dizziness, unconsciousness and even death. The damage caused is further categorized as either primary, secondary, mild and severe.
Primary damage is what has already occurred or completed during the accident. Examples of primary brain damage are skull fractures, blood clots and nerve damage.
Secondary damage is what develops as time goes on after the accident. For secondary brain damage examples are brain swelling, intracranial (inside the head) infection and a host of others.
Mild damage is when the initial consciousnesses, dizziness or other apparent symptoms last less than 30 minutes. Even though it is categorized as “mild” the individual may experience problems such as headaches, difficulty thinking, memory problems, attention deficits, mood swings and frustration. These injuries are commonly overlooked and you should be aware of them.
Damage is considered”severe” when immediate symptoms like unconsciousness last more than 30 minutes and memory loss after the injury or penetrating skull injury last longer than 24 hours. The problems can range from impairment of higher level cognitive functions to comatose states.
With severe damage TBI survivors may have limited function of arms or legs, abnormal speech or language, loss of thinking ability or emotional problems. The range of injuries and degree of recovery varies widely for each individual.
One major aspect that makes TBI different from many other injuries is the affect on ones personality. Traumatic brain injury is very different because one’s brain defines who we are, how we act, what and how we feel, it is our personality. The consequences of a brain injury can affect all aspects of our lives not just the physical but the emotional as well.
Unlike other injuries that when recovery is complete life typically returns to normal, TBi can have long lasting effects not visible to the eye. There can also be long lasting physical affects as well; slurred speech, impaired motor skills and paralysis are just a few examples
A brain injury is different from a broken arm or leg. Injuries like these will limit the use of a particular body part and over time will heal and the person is back to normal. There are no adverse affects to ones personality or mental abilities.
Brain injuries do not heal like other injuries. Recovery is different for everyone and just like every individual is different recovery can be very different and uncertain. This is another important aspect to understand. No two brain injuries are the same and the outcome of two similar injuries may be vastly different.
There is no way your doctor, nurse or anyone else can tell you with any certainty when, where or how long it will take before someone fully recovers. It is very difficult if not impossible to tell what the actual long term physical and emotional changes will be.
For some, symptoms may appear right away, for others they may not emerge for days or weeks after the injury. One big danger of brain injury is that the person often does not realize that a brain injury has occurred. This is common in sports like Boxing, Football and other contact sports.
The one constant that one can be assured is attitude. Keeping a positive mental image and unwavering determination is the corner stone to any successful recovery. This is important not only for for the TBI survivor but also their family, friends and caregivers. This is easier said than done.