Brain injury is one of the major causes of disability and death all over the world. The symptoms of brain injury vary depending upon its severity.
Brain injury is defined as any trauma that leads to injury of the skull or the brain. It can cause fractures in the skull, blood clots in the brain or in the space between the skull and the lining of brain, and irreversible damage to the brain. A brain injury can be classified as a closed or an open (or penetrating) injury. In a closed injury, the skull is not damaged; whereas the skull is broken, in case of an open injury.
In addition, this condition can also be divided into two categories:
- Traumatic (or intracranial injury) – It is caused due to a sudden and direct blow to the head, which breaks the skull and damages the brain or causes the brain to move within the skull. Displacement of the brain affects the nerve fibers, leading to the damage of brain tissue. It can be caused due to physical violence, car crashes, falls, and sports injuries.
- Acquired – In case of this category of injury, cells of the brain are affected after birth. It occurs at the cellular level, instead of affecting a particular area of the brain. It can be caused due to metabolic disorders, choking, drowning, blood loss, electric shock, heart attack, AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), and other complications.
This disease affects an individual’s personality, physical abilities, cognition, and internal functions. Signs can be observed immediately after the injury or after several hours. Though the most common symptoms are memory loss and chronic headache, the expression of symptoms depend upon the severity of the injury.
Mild Injury: It produces symptoms that may last for a few weeks to several months. In fact, more than 50% of patients experience symptoms for more than six months. Such a condition is called post-concussion syndrome. The symptoms of this syndrome are:
- Sensory problems
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Mental confusion
- Loss of attention/concentration
- Sudden change in mood
- Behavior changes
- Memory loss
- Sleep disturbances
Since these are common to other diseases, they are often misinterpreted by the injured person and the family members. Hence, proper diagnosis is needed for confirmation.
Moderate to Severe Injury: Immediate medical attention is essential in this case. Symptoms may include:
- Persistent headache
- Pale skin color
- Repeated nausea and vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilation in one or both pupils of the eye
- Difficulty in walking
- Weakness in one side/part of the body
- Loss of consciousness
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- Open wound in the head
- Deep cut in the scalp
- Blood or clear fluid draining from the ears or nose
- Short-term memory loss
- Behavioral changes and irritability
- Vegetative state (a condition of wakefulness without detectable awareness)
- Lock-in syndrome (a condition in which a person can think, but cannot speak or move)
Diagnosis and Treatment
In case, an individual suffers a blow to the head, he/she should go for medical checkup as soon as possible. Diagnostic tests include blood test, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and electroencephalogram (EEG). Based on the severity, treatment may include rest, antibiotic treatment, stitches, surgery ,and hospitalization for observation.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.