A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sharp object penetrates your brain or you suffer blunt trauma to the head. Your brain may be thrown back and forth during an impact, causing shearing of the nerves, bruising or bleeding. TBI is one of the most life-changing injuries you can suffer from various types of accidents. The impact of this injury on your life varies significantly depending on the severity of the damage.
Sometimes, traumatic brain injury can be mild, and you can recover with medication and rest. However, in severe cases where you suffer a permanent brain injury, you may need to explore other options like surgery. Most individuals who suffer traumatic brain injury may need rehabilitation to recover and relearn new skills. This form of treatment helps you to rebuild and maintain strength, balance, and coordination. If you seek physical therapy relief for a traumatic brain injury in Las Vegas, NV contact Suarez Physical Therapy.
Overview of Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury is brain damage or dysfunction caused by an outside source. Brain injury can result from a traumatic blow to the head or penetration of a sharp object through your skull. Injuries that occur immediately after the impact may include bruising, shearing, or bleeding of the brain. It is essential to understand that a skull fracture is unnecessary for you to suffer this kind of injury. Jolting your brain on the sides of the skull may cause brain injury even when the skull is not broken.
After the accident, you may appear fine or suffer severe headaches, confusion, or blurred vision. If you have been in an incident where you sustained an impact on your brain, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Undetected damage to your brain may rapidly progress to traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic brain injury is a life-changing experience. Your brain is a significant part of your body that controls other functions. When your brain function is impaired, it may be difficult to perform simple life functions. Doctors often classify TBI in four primary categories depending on the severity of the injury. The severity measure is based on the Glasgow Coma Scale/Score (GCS) scale, which measures a person’s consciousness after a brain injury.
The severity of your TBI dictates the extent of treatment and amount of time needed to recover from the injury. However, recovering from any form of traumatic brain injury is often a possibility. Sometimes, you may deal with the consequences of the damage for a lifetime. Muscle and coordination are likely to be affected by the injury to your brain. Therefore, it would be wise to seek the services of a physical therapist if you or your loved one exhibits any symptoms of TBI.
Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury happens when a sudden and violent jolt or blow to your head results in brain damage. As your brain collides with the inside of the skull, there may be bruising and bleeding. If the skull fractures or a sharp object penetrates the skull, you could suffer an open injury to the brain. The following are some of the common causes of traumatic brain injury:
Slip and fall
A slip and fall accident can cause your head to hit your head violently on the floor or a nearby object. The impact from the fall could cause your brain to move inside the skull, causing an injury. If you hit bottom and your skull cracks, the sharp particles may penetrate the brain, causing a more severe injury. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, slip and fall causes more brain injuries than most people assume.
Strikes to the Head
A blow to your head is another way in which you can suffer a traumatic brain injury. An object or another person may cause a stroke. Contact sports are a risk for developing this kind of injury. Therefore, children under the age of fifteen years are at a higher risk of developing this injury. You should always ensure to shield your head before playing sports like football and boxing.
When you ride a motorcycle, your body is more exposed to the outward forces than riding in a vehicle. If a motorcycle collides with another car or object, the rider is at a higher risk of developing severe injury or losing their life. If you fall from a bike, the impact may be too much for the helmet to sustain. Also, the helmet may come off, leaving your skull exposed to a high impact from the ground or penetration from sharp objects.
Motor Vehicle Collisions
Car accidents are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury. There are several ways that you could suffer brain trauma while in a motor vehicle accident. If you are involved in a serious accident like a rollover or head-on collision, the impact from the vehicle metals or other objects could cause a traumatic impact on your head. Also, hitting your head on the steering wheel when in a rear or front-end collision could be fatal. In most cases, traumatic brain injury from a vehicle collision could be catastrophic. If you experience a motor vehicle accident, the injury may impact you for a lifetime.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury can either be open or closed, depending on the cause of your injuries. An open TBI occurs when there is a broken skull or a sharp object penetrates the brain. Closed injuries, on the other side, happen when you experience blunt trauma to the head. In these cases, the injury is caused by the jolting of your brain in the skull. Common types of brain injury include:
A concussion is the most common form of brain injury when a strong force strikes your head. When your skull receives the impact, the brain will move in the direction of that force and collide with the rigid skull. In the past, doctors considered concussions as mild injuries. However, they have been seen to progress to more serious injury to your brain. The symptoms of a concussion may range from mild to severe, depending on the level of impact.
The symptoms of a concussion may subside with enough rest. However, if they do not disappear within a month, it may indicate a more serious issue. Fortunately, some effects of the concussion can be managed with medications and physical therapy
Brain hemorrhage is uncontrolled bleeding in the brain tissue or on the surface. Brain bleeding can originate from the space surrounding your brain or within the cerebral matter. Even though most forms of bleeding can be controlled and do not cause serious damage, they can be life-threatening when left untreated.
Contusions are injuries that often accompany concussions. A contusion is a bruise to the brain that causes slight bleeding. If the brain bleed does not recover independently, the injury may develop into a hematoma, which is more severe and may require surgery to treat. The severity of a contusion depends significantly on the location of the injury and its size.
A hematoma is a collection of blood outside the blood vessels. This type of injury occurs when your blood vessels during an impact burst, causing the blood to collect out of the vessels. A small hematoma may not be risky and could heal within a short time. However, large hematomas could be life-threatening when left untreated.
Sometimes, the hematoma may develop after days or weeks following the brain injuries. If you suffer a blow to your head and are experiencing symptoms such as slurred speech, severe headache, and vomiting, it may be a sign of a hematoma. Hematomas can be dangerous to your health and brain function. Therefore, it is crucial to seek medical care as soon as possible. Several forms of hematoma qualify as traumatic brain injury, including:
- Subdural hematomas. This occurs when your brain bleeds, causing the blood to collect under a thin layer around the brain.
- Intracerebral hematoma. This form of brain injury results from the collection of blood outside the blood vessels.
- Epidural hematomas. Collection of blood from a brain injury between your brain and your skull.
Diffuse Axonal Injury
Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI) is one of the most serious types of traumatic brain injury. The DAI injury occurs when your brain is shaken or twisted inside the skull. When the brain twists, the cerebral tissue may slide into the connecting fibers causing a tear. The axonal shearing disrupts message exchange from the neurons, causing a malfunction. Diffuse axonal injuries are very small hence difficult to detect and treat. The severity of the symptoms you experience from this injury will depend on the number of torn axons.
A penetrating brain injury is caused by a sharp object breaking your skull and penetrating your brain matter. A penetrating injury is one of the fatal traumatic brain injuries and could cause death when left untreated. Also, individuals who suffer brain injury often develop other complications such as epilepsy. If your loved one has a sharp object lodged in their brain, you should not attempt to remove it until a doctor assesses it. This helps avoid unnecessary bleeding and worsening of the condition.
Common Symptoms Associated with Traumatic Brain Injury
Sometimes it can be clear that you have suffered a brain injury after an accident. This will be the case when you are bleeding from the head and are unconscious. However, it is not evident in other cases, and the signs may take a while to manifest. The following are some of the signs that you may have suffered a brain injury, and you need to seek immediate medical attention:
- Severe headache.
- Bleeding from the head.
- Blurred vision.
- Slurred speech.
- Impaired balance.
Diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury
When you are taken to the emergency room with a head injury, the doctors will assess your symptoms and how the injury occurred to determine the extent of your injury. Also, the doctor may perform a GCS test which is a fifteen-point test used to grade your level of consciousness. Your ability to open your eyes and stay awake is considered when diagnosing traumatic brain injury.
The following are the degrees of traumatic brain injury:
- Mild. When you suffer a mild traumatic brain injury, you may be awake and eyes open but will experience symptoms such as severe headache, memory loss, loss of consciousness and confusion. The GCS score will range from 13 to 15 points when your TBI is mild.
- Moderate. Individuals who suffer moderate traumatic brain injury may appear lethargic with eyes open to stimulation. You could lose consciousness for up to twenty minutes and feel extremely sleepy from severe loss of blood. The GCS score for this category of TBI ranges from nine to twelve points.
- Severe. Severe brain injury is the most serious form of traumatic brain injury. If you suffer this form of injury, you may be completely unconscious and not receptive to stimulation. Also, you will exhibit a GCS score of four to eight points.
Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury
You can recover from mild TBI by rest and medication to relieve the headache. However, moderate to severe TBI will require intensive care in a hospital. Swelling and bleeding in the brain is an emergency that may require extensive surgical procedures. Treatment for traumatic brain injury aims to resuscitate a patient and prevent secondary brain injury.
Some of the surgical procedures that may be used to treat this condition include:
- Craniotomy. This procedure involves cutting a tiny hole in the skull, removing a bone flap, and repairing the damaged part of the brain.
- Decompressive craniotomy involves removing a large part of the bone to create room for the brain to swell and relieve pressure.
- Tracheotomy involves making an incision in the neck to insert a breathing tube directly to your windpipe. This aids in the proper supply of oxygen to the brain and faster recovery.
Physical Therapy for Traumatic Brain Injury Victims
Regardless of the severity of your brain injury, it is important to understand that there is a possibility of recovery. Therefore, several options of treatment are explored when handling such a condition. Some injuries may recover from medication, while others will need extensive surgical procedures.
Most patients suffering from traumatic brain injury are discharged when they no- longer require life support. Your brain is among the most vital organs in your body. Your brain controls many functions like speaking, coordination, and balance. When you suffer a traumatic brain injury, some of these functions may be impaired. Also, you may find it difficult to walk or even turn around in bed. Therefore, you will require rehabilitative care such as physical therapy to recover the lost function and skills.
When you are minimally conscious and do not have consistent responses, your physical therapist can help you stretch, maintain positioning, and perform other light exercises that boost consistent responses.
Physical therapy can be a life-changing form of treatment for individuals who have suffered a traumatic brain injury. A TBI is diagnosed when the injury causes a loss of function. Therefore, physical therapy may help you in the following ways:
- It helps you improve your balance, stability, and coordination. When you suffer a traumatic brain injury, your brain may not effectively relay necessary information to other parts of the body. Therefore, walking, talking, or standing could be difficult. With physical therapy, you may have better movement and coordination patterns.
- Increased alertness and concentration. Lack of concentration is one of the signs and effects of traumatic brain injury. This may affect your ability to learn new things or carry on a normal life. Therefore, the therapist will help relieve the stress off your brain and increase your levels of concentration.
- Strengthen your body and muscles and reduce the feeling of fatigue that comes from the period of inactivity.
Preventing Traumatic Brain Injuries
Although you cannot protect yourself from all accidents, you can follow the following tips to reduce the risk of head and brain injury:
- Avoid driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Always take protective measures like wearing a seatbelt when you drive. Also, ensure that your children are secured while in the vehicle.
- Store firearms in an enclosed area to avoid accidents that involve guns
- Always wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or bicycle.
- Wear protective gears when playing sports
Find a Physical Therapist Near Me
Brain injury is among the most serious injuries you could suffer. The brain is a significant part of your body that controls different body functions. If you experience any sign of a brain injury, you should seek immediate specialist care to ensure early detection. Recovering from brain injury relies on brain neuroplasticity and the ability of the undamaged brain parts to take over the function of damaged areas. Also, you may need to relearn your skills and compensate for lost abilities. When you are recovering from a traumatic brain injury, you will require the help of a physical therapist to maintain the balance and coordination of your body.
At Suarez Physical Therapy, we will work with you and your family and other healthcare providers to create a treatment plan based on your symptoms and level of consciousness. If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury and seek to undergo physical therapy in Las Vegas, NV, call us today at 702-368-6778.