Archive for the ‘TBI’ Category

What Are the Signs of Traumatic Brain Injuries in Infants?

The signs of traumatic brain injuries in infants vary depending on severity, location, and age.

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Like in adults, the signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury in infants can vary greatly. It all depends on the location and extent of the age, the age of the child, premorbid abilities, and which functions are affected (i.e. cognitive, sensory, etc.). The overall effects of a traumatic brain injury in infants can be temporary or permanent; it is impossible to say without a firm, in-depth diagnosis. And even then, no two children are the same. What is common for one infant may be completely the opposite in another.

Many young children who suffer a traumatic brain injury typically develop normally after their initial recovery process. The overall developmental progression goes on relatively unhindered. Some continue to display long-term difficulties, however, including learning disabilities and social interaction impairments. These cognitive functions are impacted for life.

Furthermore, with children, the overall impact of traumatic brain injuries is vastly different from an adult due to the brain still developing. Unfortunately, this means some children may not present any effects of their injury until later in life, once their sensory system and frontal lobe have developed past adolescence.

Signs of a TBI in Infants

The signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury in infants are similar to that of an adult, though they do vary in some regards.

The physical symptoms include:

  • Changes to bowel or bladder function
  • Changes on consciousness, ranging from a brief loss to a coma state
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Impaired movement, balance, and coordination
  • Motor speed deficits
  • Reduced muscle strength

Sensory and perceptual symptoms include:

  • Auditory dysfunction resulting in difficulty hearing speech, vertigo, hypersensitivity to sound, loss of postural stability or control.
  • Visual changes, including the perception of color, size, depth, and distance; changes to visual acuity; double vision; issues with visual convergence or accommodation; sensitivity to light.

Feed and swallowing difficulties may include:

  • Oral or pharyngeal dysphagia.
  • Risk of aspiration due to cognitive impairment while eating.

Lastly, behavioral and emotional symptoms in infants include:

  • Agitation, aggression, and combativeness.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.
  • Excessive drowsiness.
  • A disorientated or foggy feeling.

As you can see, the range of symptoms in infants is extremely varied and far-reaching.

If your infant has endured a traumatic brain injury, find support and information on the topic with TryMunity at community.trymunity.com. Take part in our community today!

How Is a Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?

In most cases, a traumatic brain injury is an emergency. The consequences of such an accident can worsen without proper treatment. But first, the doctors must assess the situation and diagnose the brain injury. Currently, the “Glasgow Coma Scale” is used to assess the severity of a brain injury. The test involves your ability to follow directions, move the eyes and limbs, and coherently form speech. These abilities are then scored from three to 15. A high score means a less severe brain injury, and a low score means a more severe injury. But, that’s not the end of the diagnosis. The doctors require imagery of the brain and the damage. Most often, a CAT scan, MRU, SPECT, or PET are scheduled for a better evaluation.

Methods to Diagnose a TBI

Following a traumatic brain injury, seek immediate medical attention for a TBI diagnosis.

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With a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, such as a blow directly to the head, diagnosis is relatively straightforward. It is when you mix in other life-threatening injuries, such as those caused by a car accident, that a head injury can be overlooked. The focus of all medical professionals is on treating the life-threatening injuries before them, such as extreme blood loss.

In such a case, the patient may wind up on a ventilator and sedated for the time being. This temporary vegetative state makes evaluating a brain injury difficult, if not impossible, until the patient can re-emerge from the state. Even then, a mild traumatic brain injury cannot be fully diagnosed until the individual is capable of speaking, moving their eyes or limbs, and performing simple tasks.

With all of that being said, when diagnosing a severe traumatic brain injury – an incident focused directly on the head or brain – certain symptoms will arise. For instance, an injury to the frontal lobe leads to a loss of high cognitive function, meaning inappropriate behavior or outbursts. An injury to the brainstem, on the other hand, may inhibit breathing, heart rate, and arousal. These symptoms are immediately noticeable to the medical team, as is a loss of consciousness, memory loss, or difficulty speaking.

Information About the TBI

Many medical professionals will have a series of questions to ask the patient or those who witnessed the accident/incident in question. These questions vary, but most include:

  • How did the injury occur?
  • Did the patient lose consciousness?
  • How long were they unconscious for?
  • Were there any noticeable changes in alertness, speaking, coordination, etc.?
  • Was the patient’s body whipped or jarred?

These questions, and more like them, provide a better idea of the accident and the injury.

If you have any further questions regarding the diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury or living with a TBI, please visit the TryMunity community at community.trymunity.com for support and informative dialogue on the topic!

Can You Die From a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A TBI-related injury can lead to death and disability.

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A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant cause of death and lifelong disability here in the United States. According to Brainline, traumatic brain injuries account for around 30% of all injury-related deaths annually in the country. Each day, around 153 people pass away because of their TBI injuries and symptoms. But, not everyone dies from their injuries. Some endure a lifetime of disabilities, pain, and discomfort. The long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries may include memory, movement, and sensation impairment, though every case is unique.

The Severity of a TBI

A traumatic brain injury is a significant bump, blow, or jolt directly to the head that may disrupt everyday functions. Not every injury to the head results in a TBI, though. Some bumps are minor and result in nothing more than a headache. But, with a TBI, the severity ranges from “mild” to “severe.” Most are mild, such as a concussion. Then, you have the more severe cases, in which memory loss or extended unconsciousness are more common.

According to research, around 2.8 million TBI-related emergency room visits occur each year. These visits result in long-term hospitalization and death. Thankfully, despite the increased number of TBI-related visits to hospitals across the country, the death rates have decreased. The decrease is just 5%, but that is significant enough to warrant notice. With all of the recent advancements in medical equipment and treatment procedures, doctors are now able to better help TBI injuries and patients through better care.

Leading Causes of TBIs

We can sit here and discuss statistics all day, but a better use of recent research is learning what the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries are and how to prevent one.

Here in the United States, the leading causes of TBIs include:

  • Falling – Slip and fall accidents accounted for nearly 50% of all TBI-related injuries and hospital visits. With a falling incident, both the youngest (0-14 years) and oldest (>65) age groups are affected more than anyone else.
  • Blunt Force – A blunt force hit to the head when being struck by an object is the second leading cause of TBI injuries. These incidents account for around 15% of all TBI-related hospital visits and deaths in the country
  • Accidents – A car accident is the third leading cause of TBI-related injuries in the United States. Around 14% of all TBI injuries are due to car accidents.

Regarding deaths associated with TBI injuries, intentional self-harm ranked as the second most common, with 33% of the total deaths, according to reports.

If you or someone you love suffers from a traumatic brain injury that makes everyday activities troubling, find solace in the TryMunity support community. We have a wealth of knowledge on living with TBI injuries, caring for TBI patients, and emotional support for all! Visit community.trymunity.com to learn more.

Will I Ever Be Symptom-Free After a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury can have long-lasting complications.

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There are numerous symptoms associated with traumatic brain injuries. Although research on the topic is improving every day, there are still some mysteries surrounding the injuries. For instance, will a patient ever be symptom-free after their injury?

It’s a tough question to answer because the injury varies from person to person. Some traumatic brain injury symptoms are relatively minor and short-lived. Others may be more traumatic and long-lasting.

In some cases, symptoms of a TBI do not appear right away. They can take days or weeks after an injury to present themselves. In those cases, people around the affected individual may start to notice subtle signs first. If symptoms do appear immediately (within the first 24 hours), emergency medical assistance is needed.

Common Signs and Symptoms of TBIs

Before we dive into the lifespan of TBI symptoms, let’s explore the most common signs and symptoms associated with traumatic brain injuries. Knowing these signs can help save lives.

  • A complete loss or change in consciousness lasting from a few seconds to a few hours.
  • Difficulty awakening the individual.
  • Convulsions or seizures.
  • One dilated pupil or double vision.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Fluid draining from the ears or nose.
  • Slurred speech, weakness of arms or legs, loss of balance, etc.

After an injury of any degree, headaches, dizziness, confusion, and fatigue are the most common symptoms that appear immediately. These tend to resolve themselves over time, fortunately.

You may also experience emotional symptoms, such as frustration and irritability, that develop over time during the recovery period. These symptoms tend to last longer.

Becoming Symptom-Free After a TBI

The effects of a moderate to severe TBI can be long-lasting or permanent. It is entirely possible to undergo rehabilitation and recovery after an accident. Still, most severe TBI survivors face permanent challenges that require them to adapt to a new way of living.

A moderate to severe TBI can lead to long-lasting physical or mental disabilities. These challenges mean adapting with various work tasks, social obligations, and other routine tasks that were once easy to accomplish. Some patients find their skills and abilities are not as sharp as they once were.

Unfortunately, these lifelong challenges can have mental repercussions, too. The individual may feel inadequate or helpless in their current situation. It is common for TBI patients to suffer from depressive and anxiety disorders due to their injuries. These psychological struggles stem from the injury and the stress of facing life-long symptoms.

It’s crucial to provide TBI patients with as much love and support as possible. There are resources available online, such as TryMunity, and locally, including support groups and networks, that help patients overcome their challenges.

At TryMunity, we have developed a support community for both patients and their loved ones working to overcome traumatic brain injuries and disorders. We have a wealth of knowledge available and a helpful community you can lean on in your time of need.

Understanding a CT Scan After a TBI

A CT scan is often scheduled to further diagnose a severe TBI.

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Today, there is more available information about traumatic brain injuries than ever before. There are now studies relating to how contact sports (such as football) lead to traumatic brain injuries. The world is starting to recognize the issue on a broader scale.

Still, treatment is a mystery to some. A significant blow to the head or a twist of the neck is terrifying. Typically, the injury is not severe. There are cases, however, where a simple concussion is only the beginning. Some patients suffer from internal bleeding of the brain or a crack in the skull. In such cases, a CT scan is used to determine the extent of the damage.

Understanding a CT Scan

Often, a CT (computerized tomography) scan is necessary. A scan is designed to show the doctor if there is swelling or bleeding in the brain, or potentially a fracture to the skull. If there are signs of severe head trauma, a CT scan is the first test ordered to diagnose the condition. Your doctor will closely examine the scanned image for signs of a developing disorder or trauma.

First, most doctors will examine other symptoms, such as:

  • Weakness along one side of the face or body
  • Difficulty speaking, hearing, and swallowing
  • Reduced vision
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • One dilated pupil
  • Fluid or blood leaking from the ear or nose
  • Tenderness around the skull

According to reports, if you do not display any of the above-mentioned symptoms after an injury to the head, your risk of complications is around 1 in 7000. A CT scan is unlikely to help in such a case.

Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosis

While a CT scan is typically used to diagnose a traumatic brain injury, there are other methods often used. There is no single test that can definitively confirm a TBI. However, your doctor can assess the history of the injury, symptoms displayed, perform a physical examination, and schedule additional tests (including neuroradiology) to confirm the diagnosis.

Typically, TBI patients experience a loss of consciousness when enduring such a traumatic injury. This loss of consciousness ranges from a few seconds to a few minutes. In the most severe traumatic brain injury cases, the loss of consciousness can result in days spent in a coma. Even worse, some never leave a coma after their injury. Furthermore, most TBI patients experience some form of amnesia, whether minor or long-lasting.

So, when is the CT scan used in the diagnosis phase? A CT scan is used in conjunction with other diagnostic methods. Typically, a CT scan, which is fast and accurate, is used to diagnose acute head trauma that requires emergency treatment, such as surgery, to prevent life-threatening conditions. It starts with a visual diagnosis more than anything else, though.

If you or a loved one suffers from a traumatic brain injury and is living with the symptoms, consider TryMunity your number one source of support and informative articles on TBIs.

How Is a Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?

Following a head injury, consult a doctor immediately for a TBI diagnosis.

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The majority of traumatic brain injuries are relatively mild. However, even the least serious brain injuries can have long-lasting health implications. One of the primary concerns with such an injury is that the situation can quickly worsen without proper treatment. Following an accident of any kind involving the head, you should seek medical attention.

During the visit, the doctor will examine the head and most likely schedule a neurological exam, including an X-ray of the brain. It is here that any noticeable damage will be discovered and diagnosed for further treatment.

Injury Information

If you or someone you know has sustained a serious head-related injury, you’ll want to rush to the nearest hospital. Here, medical professionals will begin their diagnosis.

A bit of information is always useful to help diagnose the patient. This information can include:

  • How the injury occurred
  • Whether or not the patient lost consciousness
  • How long the patient was unconscious
  • Any noticeable changes to speech or coordination
  • Where the patient’s head was struck
  • Whether the individual’s body was whipped or jarred

This information can be answered by relatively basic questions, and they provide a good indication of the extent of the injury for the doctor. Doctors are somewhat forced to rely on firsthand accounts of the injury for necessary information.

Methods of Diagnosis

With this information out of the way, your doctor will select a method of diagnosis. This often includes an imaging test, such as a CT Scan or MRI. Both are common methods for diagnosing head trauma.

  • Computerized Tomography Scan (CT) – A CT scan is often performed in the emergency room on any patient suspected of having a traumatic brain injury. The scan uses X-rays to create a detailed image of the brain. Then, doctors can quickly visualize any fractures, locate internal bleeding, blood clots, bruised tissue, or swelling, and begin treatment.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – An MRI utilizes radio waves and magnets to create an image of the brain. The test is often administered after the conditions stabilize or if symptoms do not improve shortly.

TBI Treatment

Following a diagnosis, TBI treatment may begin. The treatment method varies depending on the severity of the injury. For a mild traumatic brain injury, no other treatment besides rest and over-the-counter pain medication is required. Your doctor may pull you out of school or work for the time being.

For severe, emergency brain injuries, the patient will require enough oxygen to survive and an adequate blood supply for the brain. Treatment will begin in the emergency room or intensive care unit under the care of a highly-trained neurologist.

Dealing with life after a traumatic brain injury can be overwhelming to many. If you or a loved one has suffered from TBI, visit the TryMunity website for support and informative articles.

Living with a Traumatic Brain Injury

Living with a traumatic brain injury is a challenging experience.

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A brain injury changes your life forever. Today, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are associated with a broad number of neurological, psychological, and physical injuries that drastically impact how someone responds to the world around them. These changes are often behavioral, physical, and permanent. Many patients who suffered from a traumatic brain injury require assistance from friends and family indefinitely.

If you’ve suffered from a traumatic brain injury recently, these tips can help you learn to live with the change for years to come.

Managing Symptoms

A traumatic brain injury might result in everlasting symptoms and consequences. It can make thinking clearly and concisely extremely difficult. Most patients have trouble remembering crucial information, such as their birthday or how to operate a motor vehicle properly. There are also many physical symptoms that may appear, including trouble sleeping, constant headaches, dizziness, and visual impairment, not to mention the recurring pain many experience.

Additionally, there are psychological issues plaguing patients. These range from mood disorders and constant anger to anxiety or even sadness.

To properly manage these symptoms, the individual requires support from those surrounding them. Friends, family, and doctors are a necessity. There are also tools available to make life easier. On mobile phones, there are calendar apps to remember important dates and reminders you can set. In person, you can display a whiteboard in the kitchen or near the front door. Notes, dates, and important information can be written down for ease.

Techniques to Improve Memory

Following a severe traumatic brain injury, one of the primary neurological issues is a loss of memory. Some experience short-term memory loss or have trouble remembering important information. There are techniques designed to improve memory-related issues, which include:

  • Creating a structured routine for each day, including daily tasks and various activities.
  • Using aids, such as notebooks, calendars, schedules, task lists, or cue cards as reminders for various tasks.
  • Devoting time to reviewing and practicing new information.
  • Getting good sleep to reduce anxiety and memory troubles.
  • Speaking with doctors about how medications affect memory.

For maximum effectiveness, these techniques must be utilized regularly. You cannot set up a schedule, adhere to it for a week, then decide to stop performing the tasks. Regularity is key.

Complex Tasks

Many people suffering from traumatic brain injuries find themselves struggling with complex tasks like doing laundry, managing a checkbook, or driving their vehicle. Unfortunately, they may also have trouble recognizing that they are struggling with these tasks. They continue to perform them to the best of their abilities, but it may be up to their friends and families to offer extra support with challenging tasks.

If you or a loved one suffered from a traumatic brain injury, visit the TryMunity community for more information on living with a traumatic brain injury and support from fellow members.

How Is a Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?

Doctor analyzing images from a MRI. TryMunity.

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Without a doubt, you have a million questions when someone close to you is being treated for a head injury. Traumatic brain injuries are always unexpected, and when they occur, things need to happen quickly in order for the victim to receive the proper emergency medical care as soon as possible. Professionals use several tests and measurement scales to diagnose a patient with a TBI, which help determine the severity of the patient’s condition after the initial impact.

The Glasgow Coma Scale

The Glasgow Coma Scale was developed in 1974 by Graham Teasdale and Bryan Jennett. This devised scale assesses three conditions: a person’s ability to open their eyes; their ability to speak; and their motor skills. The scores derived from these three categories are added together in order to assess whether a person has a mild, moderate, or severe TBI. A patient that scores higher than 13 is classified as mild, a score between a 9 and a 12 is moderate, and any score at an 8 or below means that a person has a severe traumatic brain injury. The Glasgow Coma Score provides a great foundation for assessment after the initial impact to the head. Memory loss and consciousness are also factored in when determining mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injuries.

Testing Cognition and Neuropsychology

After the initial shock has passed, medical personnel will perform tests to see how the patient responds to various cognitive and motor exercises. This will give them a better idea as to the severity of the patient’s condition, as well as their rehabilitation needs moving forward. The cognitive tests will involve problem-solving, memory, thinking, and reasoning exercises. Neuropsychological tests are cognition-focused, but will also employ the use of basic motor functions to give comprehensive insights.

Speech Tests

One of the more common ways that traumatic brain injuries affect people is through speech. People who struggle with speech are often challenged by their weakened ability to control the muscles they use to speak, a condition called dysarthria. Speech and language tests will be administered by a speech-language pathologist to assess muscle coordination, witness the pace, volume, and tone of voice, observe retained reading and writing abilities, and evaluate vocabulary.

Join TryMunity

If you are faced with long-term challenges from a traumatic brain injury, you are not alone. There is a community of people across the nation who are facing similar challenges. By joining TryMunity, you are saying “yes” to connections, friendships, and watching others with TBIs succeed in their recovery journey! Join today by visiting http://community.trymunity.com/.

What Are the Signs of a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Man being examined by a doctor. TryMunity.

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Nothing can be more jarring for a parent or a loved one than awaiting a traumatic brain injury diagnosis. TBIs often happen in the blink of an eye, setting a person up for ongoing challenges as they move forward through life. Traumatic brain injuries can occur as the result of a car accident, an athletic injury, or even a bike accident without a helmet. Should a loved one encounter an injury, it’s crucial to know the signs of a TBI in order to provide the survivor with the appropriate medical attention.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

Mild traumatic brain injury is a condition that requires medical attention. Concussions are an example of a mild TBI; they can range in severity and are especially common in athletes. Surprisingly, mild traumatic brain injuries may not fully present themselves for weeks after the impact occurs. They can affect people physically, cognitively, and sensorially. Physical signs to be on the lookout for include: loss of consciousness, confusion, headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness that affects balance, fatigue, and issues with speech. In terms of cognition, be observant of mood swings that are uncharacteristic, memory issues, problems with concentration, anxiety, and observed feelings of depression. Lastly, mild traumatic brain injuries can affect people sensorially, causing someone with a mild TBI to be sensitive to light and sound, have blurry vision, experience ringing in the ear or hearing complications, and even notice issues with their sense of smell.

Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries are, as expected, even more concerning than mild TBIs; the survivor often has a long-term recovery ahead of them, both mentally and physically. This range of TBI is recognized as serious right away. Signs can include: the loss of consciousness for minutes to hours, vomiting that does not cease, coordination issues, seizures or convulsions, clear fluids coming from the ears or nose, and more. The mental symptoms can be even more frightening; someone you know and love can be unusually obstinate, extremely confused, unable to speak correctly, or even comatose. If you witness or experience any of these symptoms, it’s imperative that you get medical attention as soon as possible. Babies and younger children cannot express many symptoms that can be recognized easily in adults; if an accident occurs and they suffer an injury to their head, they should be taken to a hospital regardless of their visible physical condition.

If You Receive a TBI Diagnosis, Join TryMunity Today

If you or someone close to you endures a traumatic brain injury, there are undoubtedly concerns about what happens next. Every person is different and will require different steps during their recovery process. But, you should never feel alone on your journey. TryMunity was created to serve as an outlet and means of connecting people living with TBIs across the nation. Join this online community today by visiting http://community.trymunity.com/.

The Consequences That a Traumatic Brain Injury Can Have on Your Speech

Graphic illustrating the effects of traumatic brain injury. TryMunity.

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A traumatic brain injury changes lives forever. Because our brains are the epicenter for our entire bodies, when a TBI occurs, major functions are disrupted. These include motor skills, thinking and problem-solving abilities, and sensory processing. Some of the most concerning difficulties often faced by TBI survivors are issues with their speech and linguistic skills. It’s important to understand why these consequences occur, and what a patient can do to improve their effects.

Dysarthria

Dysarthria is one of the main reasons that traumatic brain injury survivors have difficulties with their speech. Dysarthria is considered a motor speech disorder that affects the way the muscles we use to talk move. Essentially, the muscles are weakened, which can affect the pace of speech, the volume, and the tone. It can range from mild to severe based on the case in question. When the face, lips, tongue, and throat – combined with the need for breathing – can’t keep up, it can become frustrating when a patient fails to speak as intended. But, there are ways that a TBI patient can practice and hopefully improve. A speech-language pathologist can devise a plan that will focus on muscle strengthening, breathing, and speaking clearly. It’s important for the loved ones of a TBI survivor to be supportive and patient; they may be at a greater risk for developing depression and experiencing social difficulty from their challenges with communication.

Apraxia

Apraxia can be linked to dysarthria. Apraxia is a motor-speech disorder that affects the messages sent from your brain to the muscles needed to speak. A traumatic brain injury can affect this transmission process. Apraxia is also referred to by professionals as “acquired apraxia of speech,” “verbal apraxia,” or “dyspraxia.” This disorder can prove frustrating when patients have difficulty producing the correct sounds when they speak, which can lead to the misuse of words. It can be incredibly disheartening when a patient knows what to say but can’t properly verbalize it. A speech-language pathologist can help a TBI patient improve muscle movement through exercise, improve pace and sound through speech practice, and, if the case is extreme, help them communicate in new ways.

Join TryMunity

Trouble with communication can be one of the most frustrating issues a TBI victim can face. To combat the risk of falling into depression and a feeling of isolation, find a community of individuals you can talk to. That’s why TryMunity was created; it’s an entire online community for traumatic brain injury survivors and their families to connect with others experiencing similar challenges. If you or a loved one are facing the new world of life with a TBI, you’re not alone. Join today by visiting http://community.trymunity.com/.