Concussion and Mild TBI
A blow or jolt to the head can disrupt the normal function of the brain. Doctors often call this type of brain injury a concussion or a closed head injury. Doctors may describe these injuries as a mild because concussions are usually not life threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.
After a concussion or mild brain injury some people lose consciousness or are knocked out for a short time, but not always -- you can have a brain injury without losing consciousness. Some people are simply dazed or confused. Sometimes whiplash can cause a concussion.
Because the brain is very complex, every brain injury is different. Some symptoms may appear right away, while others may not show up for days or weeks after the concussion. Sometimes the injury makes it hard for people to recognize or to admit that they are having problems.
The signs of mild brain injury and concussion can be subtle. Early on, problems may be missed by patients, family members, and doctors. People may look fine even thought theyre acting or feeling differently.
Because all brain injuries are different, so is recovery. Most people with mild injuries recover fully, but it can take time. Some symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer.
In general, recovery is slower in older persons. Also, persons who have had a concussion in the past may find that it takes longer to recover from their current injury.
People with a mild brain injury or concussion need to be seen by a doctor. Most people with concussions are treated in an emergency room or a doctors office. Some people must stay in the hospital overnight for further treatment.
Sometimes the doctors may do a CT scan of the brain or do other tests to help diagnose your injuries. Even if the brain injury doesnt show up on these tests, you may still have a concussion.
Your doctor will send you home with important instructions to follow. For example, your doctor may ask someone to wake you up every few hours during the first night and day after your injury. Be sure to carefully follow all your doctors instructions.
In rare cases, along with a brain injury, a dangerous blood clot may form on the brain and crowd the brain against the skull. Contact your doctor or emergency department right away if, after a blow or jolt to the head, you have any of these danger signs:
Symptoms of Brain Injury
Brain Injury has many symptoms. These symptoms are usually temporary, but may last for days, weeks, or even longer. Generally, if you feel that something is not quite right, or if youre feeling foggy, you should talk with your doctor.
Here are some of the symptoms:
Older adults with a brain injury may have a higher risk of serious complications such as a blood clot on the brain. Headaches that get worse or an increase in confusion are sign of this complication. If these signs occur, see a doctor right away.
How fast people recover from brain injury varies from person to person. Although most people have a good recovery, how quickly they improve depends on many factors. These factors include how severe their injury was, what part of the brain was injured, their age, and how healthy they were before the injury.
Rest is very important after a brain injury because it helps the brain to heal. Youll need to be patient because healing takes time. Return to your daily activities, such as work or school, at your own pace. As the days go by, you can expect to gradually feel better.
If you already had a medical problem at the time of your injury, it may take longer for you to recover from your brain injury. Anxiety and depression may also make it harder to adjust to the symptoms of brain injury.
While you are healing, you should be very careful to avoid anything that could cause blow or jolt to your head. On rare occasions, receiving another injury before a brain injury has healed can be fatal.
Even after your brain injury has healed, you should protect yourself from having another injury. People who have had repeated brain injuries, such as boxers or football players, may have serious problems later in life. These problems include difficulty with concentration and memory and sometimes with physical coordination.
Tips for Healing
Help for Families and Caregivers
If you notice that your family member or friend has symptoms of brain injury that are getting worse or are not getting better, talk to them and their doctor about getting help. They may also need help if you can answer YES to any of the following questions:
You might also want to talk with people who have experienced what you are going through. The California Caregivers Resource Centers can give you advice and resources and the Brain Injury Association www.biausa.org can put you in contact with people who can help.
For more information on Traumatic Brain Injuries, visit the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes.