Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic Brain Injury is defined by the CDC as a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.  Anyone can be at risk for a traumatic brain injury.

There are wide ranging symptoms for traumatic brain injury.  Symptoms can be both physical and psychological.  The symptoms may appear immediately, or it may take several days or weeks for certain symptoms to appear. 

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (Concussion)

Physical Symptoms

  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to few minutes
  • No loss of consciousness, but confusion or dazed feeling.
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Drowsiness or fatigue, sleeping more than usual
  • Speech problems or delays
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Dizziness

Sensory and Cognitive symptoms

  • Blurred vision, ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Memory and concentration issues
  • Depression and anxiety, mood swings

Moderate to Severe Brain injuries:  These can include any of the symptoms from the mild TBI, as well as these added signs.  Symptoms commonly seen within the first few hours or days after the injury.

Physical symptoms

  • Loss of consciousness for several minutes to hours
  • Headache that is persistent or worsens
  • Vomiting and Nausea
  • Seizure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Clear fluid drainage from nose or ears
  •  Inability to awaken
  • Numbness in fingers and toes
  • Coordination loss

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Unusual behavior, such as aggressive behavior and extreme agitation
  • Slurred speech and confusion
  • Coma

Children’s Symptoms

 Children and infants with traumatic brain injuries may lack the developmental and communication skills to give an accurate report of symptoms.  Families may be asked by clinicians to be aware of signs and symptoms common with brain injuries in children

  • Inability to be consoled and persistent crying
  • Unusual irritability
  • Changes in eating or nursing habits
  • Sleep habit changes
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Seizures
  • Unusual drowsiness
  • Loss of interest in play, activities or favorite toys
  • Changes in ability to pay attention
  • Loss or regression with new skills (ie. Toilet training)
  • Loss of balance
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