Traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury describes an injury or damage to the brain as a result of a stroke or a heavy blow to the head. Concussion is the mildest form of a traumatic brain injury.

The brain is actually well protected by the skull bones. Despite this, heavy trauma to the head can cause brain damage. Falls and traffic accidents are the most common causes of traumatic brain injury.  Depending on whether there is a opening in cranial cavity as a result of the injury or not, this is known as open or closed traumatic brain injury. Depending on the severity of the brain injury, traumatic brain injury can cause various symptoms and consequences. Severe traumatic brain injury is one of the most common causes of death in young people. Traumatic brain injury is one of the most common causes of death in young people.

The complaints and symptoms of traumatic brain injury depend on the severity of the trauma. . Concussion is often followed by headaches, nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Severe concussion can also cause memory lapses, confusion, speech disorders or epileptic seizures. The symptoms may occur immediately after the injury or only develop within several hours or days. Evidence of severe traumatic brain injury is prolonged unconsciousness after the event. The longer the unconsciousness lasts, the more serious the brain injury usually is.

Different examinations are carried out to diagnose traumatic brain injury and determine the severity of the brain injury. They include a neurological examination with specific focus on the function of the nerves and the eyes. In the case of unconscious patients in particular, radiological examinations such as computed tomography and MRI of the brain are carried out to determine the extent of the brain injury.

The treatment depends on the severity of the traumatic brain injury and the type of injury. If the patient has mild concussion, they are usually monitored for 12 – 24 hours to monitor their progress. In the case of severe brain injuries with haemorrhages, an emergency operation may be necessary to resolve the bleeding and remove the blood from the brain. Patients with severe traumatic brain injury are often kept in an artificial coma to protect the brain. Sometimes a piece of skull bone is removed and the brain is kept open for some time to counter any life-threatening increase in pressure in the brain. Additional anti-inflammatory medication is also administered to reduce the cerebral swelling.

Depending on the severity of the brain damage, an intensive rehabilitation programme is required after traumatic brain injury. Under certain circumstances, basic functions such as walking or speaking must be relearned. Nevertheless, there are often residual long-term effects after severe traumatic brain injury.