Unfortunately, traumatic brain injuries often develop from some of the same extremely negative events that lead to so many spinal cord injuries. Both of these major insults to the human body are often caused by motor vehicle crashes, industrial incidents, oilfield incidents, falls, acts of violence, and sports injuries.
However, according to the Mayo Clinic website, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are somewhat different in that they are also frequently caused by combat injuries and explosive blasts. While our military healthcare teams are now more successful in treating far more service men and women harmed by (TBIs), finding the best treatment for each unique person and wound can be a bit daunting.
After reviewing the basic medical definition of a traumatic brain injury, this article will look at some of the most common symptoms of TBIs, along with both routine and alternative treatment therapies.
What Constitutes a Traumatic Brain Injury – And What Are Common Symptoms?
The Mayo Clinic simply refers to a TBI as one that develops following a severe jolt or blow to the head or body. In some cases, foreign objects like shrapnel may also pierce the skull and enter the head. Although some symptoms may become apparent immediately after the injury, others may not fully appear for several more days or weeks.
Sadly, far too many physical, sensory and cognitive symptoms of a traumatic brain injury are often quickly brushed off by victims. Yet each sign should be taken seriously – whether it appears alone or in conjunction with several others. Here are some of the most common symptoms of a traumatic brain injury.
- Fatigue and drowsiness
- Sleep difficulties
- Loss of balance or dizziness
- An ongoing state of being disoriented, dazed or confused
- Brief loss of consciousness – for a few seconds or even longer
- Problems with memory or concentration
- Unexpected and unpredictable mood changes
- Difficulties with anxiety and depression
Should you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or another person following a traumatic event, please see a physician right away. You may also be referred out to a neurologist or some other type of specialist. Always seek immediate attention when more pronounced symptoms appear such as seizures, an inability to wake up easily from sleep, slurred speech and a pronounced loss of coordination.
Short-Term and Long-Term Treatment Approaches May Vary
Should the TBI patient continue to battle incessant pain or cognitive problems, imaging studies will be done to try and rule out a tumor, bleeding in the brain or other maladies. If medically necessary, brain surgery may follow after appropriate brain scans and MRIs have been completed.
While brain surgery may fully correct the difficulties suffered by some patients, others may need to consider the following types of treatments or therapies – especially once they realize that they may otherwise keep suffering chronic pain or cognitive deficits following their injury and any surgery performed.
Doctors normally suggest less invasive treatments once they’re ruled out various brain diseases, tumors or other growths.
- This treatment involves teaching a patient how to monitor his/her heart rate while practicing newly learned deep-breathing techniques. Although some biofeedback patients only experience relief during this treatment – others learn ways to extend the improved physical relaxation and lessening of pain for longer time periods;
- This ancient form of treatment involves placing very thin needles into the patient’s skin at specific points. A number of practitioners believe that these needles can actually reroute the body’s pain signal pathways for lengthy time periods;
- Given the current high rate of addiction to painkillers in America, fewer and fewer reputable doctors are prescribing pain medications for anything more than initial, short-term usage. Furthermore, the side-effects of painkillers can also be quite negative;
- Brain Stimulation. Many advanced medical centers like the Mayo Clinic offer this type of treatment to chronic pain sufferers. It involves placing electrodes deep into the brain for multiple treatments. Doctors will experiment to see if both sides of the brain can benefit from stimulation — or just one side or the other. Even if this type of treatment doesn’t end all pain, many patients find it helps them significantly lower their pain medications;
- Local Electrical Stimulation. This type of therapy is often delivered by a device like the TENS unit. This acronym stands for “Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation.” Although this approach often just temporarily blocks certain pain signals, it may provide a bit of long-term relief for some patients;
- Psychotherapy and behavior modification. Qualified therapists can help chronic pain sufferers learn new ways to decrease the environmental stressors in their life, while they also do what they must to build up other coping strategies.
Please bear in mind that regardless of how you incurred your traumatic brain injury, you can nearly always find a way to connect with others fighting similar problems. Local hospitals often provide bi-weekly or monthly support meetings for patients and there are many online support groups designed to help individual sufferers easily connect with others in their city or elsewhere.
Many chronic pain sufferers experience new hope as they discuss their progress and current treatment regimens with others. All supportive connections can make a big difference in the lives of most chronic pain sufferers.
Online website sources include: The Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and Brain Injury Association of America.