Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when an external mechanical force disrupts normal brain function. TBI usually results from a violent blow, bump or jolt to the head or body. This can lead to permanent or temporary impairment of cognitive, physical, and psychosocial functions, with an associated diminished or altered state of consciousness.
An article in Medical News Today reported that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 60% of all hospitalizations for TBI occur among individuals aged 55 and older. Individuals aged 75 years and older had the highest rates of TBI-related emergency department (ED) visits, inpatient stays and deaths. TBI also affects the youngest age groups.
The CDC lists the leading causes of TBI as:
* Motor vehicle and pedestrian-related accidents
* Unintentional blunt trauma such as being hit by an object
Sports-related injuries and explosive blasts or military combat injuries are other leading causes of this type of brain injury.
Some symptoms appear immediately after the traumatic event while others may appear only days or weeks later.
* Loss of consciousness (for a few seconds to a few minutes)
* Difficulty sleeping
* Dizziness or loss of balance
* Fatigue or drowsiness
* Being in a dazed, confused or disoriented state
* Nausea or vomiting
* Sleeping more than usual
Cognitive or mental symptoms
* Feeling depressed or anxious
* Memory or concentration problems
* Mood changes or swings
* Coma and other disorders of consciousness
* Sensitivity to light or sound
* Blurred vision
* Ringing in the ears
* A bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell
In most cases, mild traumatic injuries generally require no treatment other than rest and over-the-counter medications to treat headache. However, moderate to severe head injuries that include any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms which may appear within the first hours to days after a head injury, would require medical attention.
As part of the initial diagnosis, the physician will conduct a detailed neurological examination to assess the memory, level of consciousness, balance and other brain functions. Based on the extent of injury and the intensity of symptoms, a detailed CT scan or MRI scan would be performed in order to evaluate the extent of brain damage.
At a professional multi-specialty healthcare center, the patient will be provided with a customized treatment plan based on the evaluation. Treatment may involve unblocking airways, maintaining blood flow to the brain, medications and pain management.
Physical therapy therapeutic programs at these centers are designed to help geriatric patients strengthen muscles, regain mobility and improve balance. Established centers also offer fall prevention programs that comprise balance training and exercises programs to help patients improve mobility and independence.
Surgery is recommended only if the brain injury is too severe to treat with these modalities.