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Recognizing the symptoms of brain injuries

According to Mayo Clinic, a violent blow or jolt to the head or body is usually the cause of traumatic brain injury. An object that pierces brain tissue can cause brain damage. Mild brain injury may briefly affect your brain cells, but more-serious traumatic brain injury can result in long-term complications, or even death.

It can be hard to assess how serious a head injury is by just looking at it. Minor head injuries may bleed, while major injuries may not bleed at all. The signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can be subtle, so it is important to know how to recognize the signs.

Moderate brain injury typically results in loss of consciousness from 20 minutes to six hours. The brain injury becomes severe if unconscious for more than six hours and a Glasgow Coma Scale of three to eight.

Physical symptoms

The long-term symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include the physical changes one may encounter.

  • Sleep disorders
  • Loss of stamina
  • Appetite changes
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Physical paralysis
  • Chronic pain
  • Loss of control of bowel and bladder functions
  • Seizures
  • High fever
  • Hormonal changes

Cognitive deficits

  • Attention and concentration

It is common for someone to have problems with attention and concentration after a TBI. A person may be unable to focus or pay attention to more than one thing at a time. This can be frustrating for TBI patients and may result in restlessness.

To improve the attention span, consider decreasing the distractions. Working in a quiet room may help to achieve this. Practice makes perfect. Gaining back attention skills should start on simple, yet practical activities and gradually become harder.

  • Speech and language

Persons with TBI can have difficulty with communication. This can include rambling on to think of the right word, or trouble communicating thoughts and emotions. Working with a speech therapist may help improve this over time.

Effects on vision and hearing

  • Partial or total loss of vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Depth perception
  • Intolerance to light
  • Decrease of loss of hearing
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Intolerance to sounds

Traumatic brain injury can also have social-emotional or behavior effects. Persons with TBI may become aggressive and suffer from depression. Recent studies have found an increase in suicide among those with TBI, so it is important to keep an eye on loved ones when dealing with a brain injury.

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