What are the Long-Term Effects of TBI?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is serious, and full recovery may never be possible. A concussion is the most frequent TBI. A concussion ranges from mild to severe. TBI is common in high-impact sports such as boxing and American football. However, the greatest causes of TBI are falls and automobile accidents. The brain floats in fluid inside your skull (cranium). When a person takes a severe blow to their head, the brain hits the skull wall. This impact injury may cause a contusion or concussion that perhaps causes permanent brain damage.
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Healthcare practitioners classify TBI by its type and severity. There are seven types of TBI with three severity levels: mild, moderate, and severe TBI.
The types of TBI are:
- Brain Contusion: A contusion is a mild form of bleeding. If the bleeding in the brain does not stop by itself, treatment for a brain contusion may require brain surgery. The level of damage depends on how much bleeding there is and how long it lasts.
- Concussion: A concussion is likely to be a mild TBI. However, severe concussions may cause lifelong damage. A person suffering from multiple concussions may develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This damage is common in professional football players and may permanently change a person’s behavior, mood, and brain functions.
- Coup-Contrecoup Brain Injury: This type of brain injury happens when the impact to the head is very severe. The brain slams into the skull wall on the opposite side from the impact. Symptoms are severe. Survivors need extensive support to recover, with only partial recovery a likelihood.
- Diffuse Axonal Injury: A diffuse axonal injury happens when the brain stem’s connections to the brain tear. Even microscopic tears cause brain damage. Severe tears are fatal.
- Penetrating Injury: This type of injury happens when something enters the skull and the brain. These injuries may cause severe bleeding, blood clots, and disrupt the vital flow of oxygen to the parts of the brain. This injury may result in death or a permanent disability if the person recovers.
- Second Impact Syndrome: A second injury to a previously damaged portion of the brain can dramatically increase the brain damage.
- Shaken Baby Syndrome: Frustrated parents may violently shake a crying baby and cause severe injury. In most places, this is criminal child abuse and may result in the infant’s death.
Potential Long-Term Effects
The long-term effects of TBI depend on the type and the severity of the brain injury. For mild TBI, they can include mood changes, blurry vision, headaches, memory loss, confusion, dizziness, ringing/buzzing/humming in the ears (tinnitus), sensitivity to light, neck pain, and many other symptoms.
Moderate or severe TBI may include bleeding in the brain that does not stop, alterations of consciousness, unresponsiveness, a person’s eyes do not track properly, dilated pupils, convulsions, seizures, nausea, vomiting, paralysis, and death.