When a loved one is suffering from an acute traumatic brain injury (TBI), you want to know their course of treatment. While your doctors and specialists can be great resources, you unfortunately don’t have access to them all the time to ask questions. TBI can be fatal if not treated immediately. Most cases of fatal TBI occur within the first two weeks of the injury. Knowing how to properly care for acute TBI is critical in keeping someone with an injury safe and healthy.
First, you want to minimize any secondary brain injury with a patient that has moderate or severe TBI. Medical staff will want to provide support to the patient with oxygen and drugs that improve circulation.
Doctors will be continuously monitoring the pressure on the brain. It is crucial that they keep the pressure low, as prognosis is better with lower pressure. This is called intracranial pressure or ICP for short. It is based on a scoring system. Generally, the ICP should be less than 20.
Most patients of TBI will be put under sedation regardless of their ICP because they are often severely agitated. It is better that patients are sedated until they are well aware of what is going on so they do not pull out IVs or the breathing tube. The sedation itself has been shown to improve ICP in short duration.
These specific agents are first in line for treating acute TBI and high ICP. It helps to relieve pressure on the brain while the patient is sedated. This is often given in conjunction with mannitol therapy. If you have questions about hyperosmolar therapy or mannitol therapy, consult your physician.