There are different ways of classifying traumatic brain injury (TBI). Brain injuries may be categorized as either open head injuries or closed head injuries. They may also be classified as acute TBI or persistent TBI. Irrespective of the type of brain injury, prompt action is needed to prevent serious, permanent damage.
The brain is the most complex organ in the body, and it is fundamental not just for basic existence, but for a full, fruitful life. So any sign of TBI must be tackled urgently. The timely assessment, transportation and treatment of TBI patients can make an enormous difference. Here are the things you need to know about TBI.
Is it a Concussion?
A concussion is a temporary change in the mental state following blunt head trauma. It may cause retrograde amnesia. That is, a patient may ask the same question repeatedly, despite receiving an answer each time. A concussion may temporarily lead to incoherent speech, disorientation, lack of coordination, and loss of consciousness.
Diagnosis as a concussion is made following a CT scan showing no structural abnormalities in the brain. Whereas the symptoms of a concussion typically clear up after a couple of hours or days, whereas severe or even multiple concussions may trigger dizziness, headaches, depression, and a lack of concentration that lasts for weeks.
There Isn’t Much Extra Room in the Cranium
TBI can cause swelling, bleeding, and inflammation from damage to the blood vessels and brain tissue. The brain fits snugly in the skull, so any bleeding and swelling will cause an increase in intracranial pressure, which may squeeze and damage the brain itself. As the pressure increases, sections of the brain may be pushed into different parts of the skull, including the opening where the spine enters the cranium.
The greater and longer-lasting the intracranial pressure is, the higher the likelihood of permanent disability or death. Signs of intracranial pressure to look out for include: seizures, altered mental state, nonreactive or unequal pupils, posturing and hypertension.
Slow Down Secondary Brain Injury
Brain tissue doesn’t regenerate. Therefore, the damage from the initial impact is largely permanent. The resulting bleeding and edema from the initial injury could, however, spread damage to other parts of the brain.
First aid and emergency care are both geared toward preventing secondary injury. This is achieved through blood pressure maintenance, ventilation or oxygenation, airway protection, and transportation to a trauma center.
Patient’s Account Isn’t Reliable
Individuals who suffer a TBI may be unresponsive, combative, or even confused. They might have difficulty following instructions or reporting pain. Matters would be further compounded if the patient is under alcohol or drug intoxication. Even where substance influence is suspected, one must assume the person’s altered mental state is a result of the brain injury.
Inspect the individual to rule out any other injury, such as monitoring their facial expression when you press their abdomen. Non-brain internal injuries, such as spinal cord problems, cannot be ruled out, so exercise caution when handling or moving the patient to avoid exacerbating such injury.
Beware of Blood Thinners
Persons on blood thinners like Plavix and Coumadin are in danger of severe bleeding in the brain from what would otherwise be considered minor head injuries. Find out what specific medications the patient is currently on and consider these during your preliminary assessment.
Any patient on blood thinners who bumps their head has to be checked at the hospital, irrespective of how minor the impact appears. Signs of intracranial bleeding may be delayed in elderly people, so this is another factor to take into consideration.
The initial actions taken by first aiders, emergency responders and hospital personnel after a suspected TBI are vital to minimizing long-term damage and accelerating recovery