In the US alone, approximately 1.7 million people have suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which is most common in young adults between 15 to 19 and adults over 65 years of age.
While many TBIs involve mild concussions, it is possible they can be much more severe, potentially causing chronic complications and disability. If you’re unfamiliar with the different types of traumatic brain injury, it can be challenging to recognize the symptoms.
Early detection of a TBI is essential. Keep reading this guide to learn about the different types of traumatic brain injuries.
Overview of Traumatic Brain Injury
Brain tissue is made up of soft tissue called grey matter and white matter, which contain neurons and other cells called glial cells. Brain tissue is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid that acts as a cushion between the brain and the skull. Specific injuries like traumatic brain injuries can put pressure on this cushion, damaging the brain.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden, external force impacts the brain. Causes of traumatic brain injury include car accidents, falls, or physical assaults.
There are different types of brain injuries that can range from mild to severe. A mild traumatic brain injury affects your brain cells temporarily, while a severe traumatic brain injury can leave you with chronic complications like memory difficulties and poor balance.
Symptoms of traumatic brain injury vary based on the type of injury and may not be noticeable immediately.
Read on to discover the most common types of traumatic brain.
Closed Traumatic Brain Injury
Closed traumatic brain injuries happen when there is a nonpenetrating injury to the brain with no break in the skull. This can be a direct blow to the head or a forceful back-and-forth movement, causing the brain to move around inside the skull. Whiplash is a common example of a closed traumatic brain injury.
Brain movement can lead to internal bleeding, bruising, and brain tissue tears.
A concussion is the most common type of closed TBI, usually from a blow or bump to the head. It can cause a temporary loss of normal brain function and sometimes an altered consciousness level depending on the force of the injury.
Falls, sports injuries, or car accidents can cause concussions. It also can tear blood vessels and injure nerves. These injuries can potentially cause a concussion or a temporary loss of normal brain function.
It is important to note with more severe concussions; it is possible you could sustain long term-complications such as post-concussion syndrome. Post-concussion syndrome occurs when symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury last longer than expected after an injury.
Not all concussions result in loss of consciousness. Some people don’t experience symptoms immediately, and others can have a range of symptoms, including:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Ringing ears
- Loss of taste or smell
Concussions can also affect memory, concentration, and problem-solving skills. You might also experience changes in sleep patterns and mood.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you’ve had a blow to the head, you should seek immediate medical attention. A doctor will diagnose a concussion with a combination of balance, coordination, strength, and reflex tests. They may also check for problems with memory or concentration.
Finally, you may have imaging tests like a CT scan or MRI to evaluate for signs of a concussion.
Treatment may involve slowly working back into your regular activities and resting if you find an activity causes concussion symptoms.
If your symptoms don’t resolve within 7 to 10 days, you should see an experienced neurology specialist for further evaluation and treatment.
A contusion is another common closed traumatic brain injury. Contusions involve a bruise on the brain due to a blow to the head. They can also cause bleeding and swelling and can occur with other injuries like skull fractures and hematomas.
Hematomas are the pooling of blood outside a blood vessel. When they occur inside the skull, they’re known as intracranial hematomas. You can also have hematomas in the brain tissue. The blood can collect underneath the skull and brain tissues, pressing on the brain.
Contusion symptoms include a raised swollen bump on the head, a cut on the scalp, and bruising.
You may also experience concussion-like symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and vomiting. In severe cases, you may have problems speaking or standing.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Mild contusions typically involve a superficial injury to the scalp and leave no lasting effects. Moderate contusions cause more serious symptoms like bleeding and loss of consciousness and require immediate medical attention.
Severe contusions can be life-threatening since they tend to have bruising inside the brain and skull that causes pressure and swelling.
A doctor will assess the injury and test for problems with balance, coordination, and thinking ability. CT scans and MRI tests may also be ordered.
Open Traumatic Brain Injury
Open traumatic brain injuries are also known as penetrating brain injuries. These injuries are caused when other objects enter the skull and pierce the brain tissue. They can be caused by:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports injuries
- A fall that causes a piece of the skull to break off and penetrate the brain
- Abuse or assaults
- Gunshot wounds
Symptoms depend on the severity of the injury and can include significant symptoms such as:
- Bleeding from the head and ears
- Problems breathing
- Problems with movement
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of bladder and bowel function
Penetrating brain injuries can affect small or large areas of the brain and require immediate emergency care.
Get Expert Treatment for Different Types of Traumatic Brain Injury
Learning more about the different types of traumatic brain injury is your first step. If you’re suffering from the effects of TBI, it’s best to turn to the qualified professionals at Neurocare of Nevada for help.
Dr. Chopra is a triple board-certified neurologist in brain injury medicine, neurophysiology, and neurology and has been treating patients in the Las Vegas Valley area since July 1999.
We provide quality care focused on the latest technology and treatment options. Make sure you contact us today to schedule an appointment.