trau•mat•ic brain in•ju•ry | truhmat-ik breyn in-juh-ree

Traumatic brain injury — or TBI — is a form of acquired brain injury resulting from sudden trauma that damages the brain. TBI can occur when there is a sudden blow or jolt to the head, or when there is a penetrating injury to the skull.

A TBI can be classified as either mild, moderate, or severe. People with brain injuries are susceptible to a variety of impairments as a result of the injury, depending on the severity.

How Common Is Traumatic Brain Injury?

In the United States, TBI is a major cause of death and disability. By a recent CDC count, TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths totaled 2.87 million in one year. It is estimated that 13.5 million Americans live with a disability due to TBI. Deaths from head injuries account for approximately one third of all traumatic deaths.

The most common form of TBI is called a concussion. A concussion is a disruption of neurological function resulting from a bump, blow, or jolt that causes one’s brain to move rapidly inside the skull. Concussions are considered mild TBIs, but for some individuals, symptoms can persist for days, weeks, or longer.

Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injury

If you’ve experienced a brain injury, experts recommend immediate care. Healthcare providers have numerous tests and tools at their disposal in order to diagnose TBI. Often times medical teams will use multiple measures along with information about how the injury was sustained in order to diagnosis TBI.

Tests and Measures

Imaging Tests – Brain image tests include the well-known computerized tomography (CT) scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) – The GCS is a physical exam and scale used to measure a person’s eye opening, verbal response, and motor response to determine level of consciousness.

TBI Level Rank – To determine whether a brain injury is mild, moderate, or severe, some medical professionals will rank TBI by level of consciousness, memory loss, and GCS score.

Blood Tests – When a mild concussion occurs, the brain will release certain proteins that are detectable by a blood test.

Communication Tests – Communication tests include speech and language assessments, as well as social communication skills tests and role-playing scenarios.

Can Traumatic Brain Injury Be Prevented?

The reality is that during our day-to-day lives, TBI is a risk. However, you can greatly reduce the chances of sustaining a TBI by following a number of prevention tips and methods.

  • Buckle up. Make sure you always wear your seatbelt. Children should use age-appropriate car seats and booster seats.
  • Don’t drive while impaired. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is dangerous.
  • Wear a helmet during contact sports and various activities, such as cycling, skiing, and skateboarding.
  • Fall-proof your home. Talk to your doctor about your specific risk of falling. Fall-proofing strategies include adding grab bars, creating clear paths, and installing good lighting.

What Are The Symptoms of TBI?

Symptoms of TBI will vary depending on the type of injury and the severity of damage.

For a mild TBI following a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, symptoms can include:

  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Brief loss of consciousness
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Memory or concentration trouble
  • Mood or behavioral changes
  • Ringing in the ears

In more moderate to severe cases of TBI, symptoms can include:

  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Decreased reasoning ability
  • Increased confusion
  • Language impairment
  • Loss of coordination
  • Persistent headache
  • Pupil dilation
  • Repeated nausea or vomiting
  • Sleep problems like hypersomnia or insomnia
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the limbs

Can You Recover From TBI?

If you’ve been diagnosed with a TBI, you’ll likely want to know if and when you’ll get better. Injuries to the brain are complex, and every person is different. Depending on the severity of TBI, recovery is possible.

Following a brain injury, some people will have a complete recovery. Some people mostly recover but will occasionally deal with lingering effects. Others will always have long-term impacts but can still continue to improve.

Improving Your Communication and Speech With An AAC Device

Lingraphica AAC devices are designed to improve communication for people with a number of conditions, including impairments due to a TBI. The device can help you express your thoughts, practice your speech, and regain your independence.

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