Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are classified as brain injuries that occur due to a violent blow or jolt to the head. A TBI causes direct damage to the nerve cells leading to bleeding or swelling in your brain. If left untreated it can also lead to loss of motor and sensory abilities even leading to partial or full body paralysis and in some cases even death.
Traumatic brain injury is usually caused by a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. In case during an accident, an object penetrates the brain tissue, this may result in a traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic injuries are mild in some cases and affect your brain cells temporarily. In case it is more serious and severe, it may result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain.
Despite this, it is extremely important that if a head injury or TBI is suspected, the patient is administered immediate medical attention to preserve body impairments.
As per the American Medical Journal states any or all of these actions as likely causes that could lead to a Traumatic Brain Injury.
- Blow to the head: These are also termed as concussions. Common causes include impact sports like wrestling and car accidents. While every strike to the head may not result in a TBI, but if any symptoms are noticed, one must seek immediate medical attention.
- Penetration: Lodging of a foreign object into the cranium such as when a bullet breaks through the skull and impacts the brain. Can result in severe hemorrhage of the brain.
- Severe Shaking of Head: Can cause a neural tear and particularly common in infants known as shaken-baby syndrome.
- Whiplash: A rapid back-and-forth movement of the brain causing it to strike against the wall of the cranium. Particularly common in sports like rugby.
Symptoms observed can vary depending on the type of TBI sustained. Signs and symptoms may either appear immediately, within days, or they may emerge weeks after the injury is sustained. In some cases, one may not notice any immediate symptoms after a TBI is sustained, but their condition could worsen later.
However, it is strongly advised that one seek immediate medical attention if you notice any/most of the following symptoms:
- Internal Bleeding
- Loss of Consciousness
- Dilated Pupils
- Blurred Vision
- Slurred Speech
- Memory Loss
- Numbness of Limbs
- Ringing in Ears
- Loss of Coordination
A Traumatic Brain Injury is classified as a medical emergency. Rapid diagnosis and treatment are required to prevent potentially life-threatening complications.
The most frequent methods used to diagnose TBI include:
- The Glasgow Coma Scale is used to assess the likelihood and severity of brain damage following a head injury. Scores are given according to verbal and physical responses and how easily the person can open their eyes. People who score between 13 and 15 on the scale are normally expected to have a positive recovery.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Computerized Tomography scans of the brain will help determine whether there is any brain injury or damage, and where.
- Angiography to detect any blood vessel problems caused by a penetrating head trauma.
- Electroencephalography measures electrical activity within the brain to show if a patient is having any non-convulsive seizures.
- Intracranial pressure monitoring to measure the pressure inside the skull to reveal any swelling of brain tissue.
- Neurocognitive tests can help assess any loss of memory or ability to process thoughts.
Physiotherapy Treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury:
While there may be a number of treatment options, studies have shown that physiotherapy can often be really helpful to alleviate the symptoms of TBI. A physical therapist can dissipate information and recommendations regarding safety equipment and gears post sustaining a TBI to reduce the potential for a traumatic brain injury to occur again and provide treatment and rehabilitation for the symptoms.
- Specialized exercise and stretching programs are designed to help retain physical function, flexibility, past range of motion and muscle coordination.
- Manual manipulation of limbs is carried out on those who are unable to participate in the exercise program. This is particularly for patients who are in a coma post sustaining a TBI. If assistive aids such as a walking stick or a wheelchair are prescribed for mobility, your physical therapist will show you how to learn to use them effectively.
- Hydrotherapy: Movements in an aquatic environment provides patients with recovery in neuromuscular re-education and strengthening. The buoyancy provides freedom of movement that is ideal for individuals who have particularly restricted mobility due to weakness and paralysis.
- Dry needling where needles are inserted into myofascial trigger points to alleviate pain
- Therapeutic massage for overall fitness, manage weight and stimulate muscles.
- Aligning the neck and spine to relieve pressure on the neurological system for better transmission of impulses between the brain and the body.