Traumatic Brain Injury: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
Around 2.5 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year in the United States. Of these 2.5 million TBIs, 130,000 result in either permanent disability or death (source).
The brain is a critical organ that controls all of our bodily functions. Naturally, it is well protected within the thick bones of the skull. We also use protective measures such as helmets, seatbelts, and general safety awareness and best practices.
When it comes to brain injuries of any degree, it’s best to take to the steps to avoid violent head collisions in the first place. However, TBIs are not always avoidable. If you have, or suspect that you have, sustained a TBI, you need to receive immediate medical attention and guidance to protect your long-term health and quality of life.
What Causes a TBI?
A TBI can be the result of a concussion, tumor, infection, stroke, brain swelling, hematoma, or skull dents and fractures. These injuries are typically generated from a significant blow to the head or a fall. When the head absorbs this force, brain tissue can be damaged by the brain bouncing within the skull. Head injuries can also create internal bleeding, swelling, and clots that can place pressure on the brain. Damage to the skull can either dent the skull and place pressure on the brain or fracture and penetrate brain tissue, leading to significant cognitive impairment.
The most common mechanisms of TBIs are automobile accidents, sports-related injuries, and falls.
How to Treat a TBI
Treatment for TBIs can be significant and immediate or passive and slow. When it comes to a highly important and sensitive organ like the brain, treatments need to be carefully considered. Our team of physicians at Advantage Healthcare Systems will put together a treatment plan that accounts for your immediate and long-term holistic health and may include any of the following:
Rest: In certain mild TBIs, the most proactive treatment is to reduce normal activities and rest. Resting allows the body to conduct its natural healing process and limits your exposure to further injuries and setbacks.
Surgery: A surgeon can conduct a decompressive craniectomy to reduce swelling and fluid buildup or create room for the brain to swell. By cutting out a piece of your skull, surgeons can remove excess fluids, clots, or fractured pieces of skull to prevent pressure being placed on the brain. If there is a significant fracture, surgery can be conducted to remove damaged tissue, which is replaced with a plate.
Medication: Based on our analysis of your condition, our physicians may prescribe one or more of these kinds of medication to manage or improve your symptoms (antianxiety agents, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, stimulants, or antinausea agents).
Recovering From a TBI
When medical intervention has reached its limit, rehabilitative efforts become the focus of your treatment. Regardless of whether your TBI required treatment, there will always be a challenging road to recovery that demands patience and dedication to rehabilitating your cognitive, emotional, and physical health.
Depending on the severity of your TBI, you may use one or a combination of these rehabilitative therapy approaches:
- Speech therapy
- Physical rehabilitation
- Anger management
- Cognitive training
Preventing Serious Brain Injuries
Brain injuries can have serious consequences and can lead to irreversible damage. There are no safety measures that are too minute to consider when it comes to protecting your head. Rather than relying on the immediate recognition of often-subtle TBI symptoms and treatment of severe brain damage, consider the steps you can take in your daily life to prevent brain injuries.
- Play smart – Whether you are a professional athlete or a rec-league phenom, competing in sports can lead to high-speed collisions or awkward falls. By wearing the proper gear and playing alert, you can protect yourself from unnecessary TBIs.
- Drive safe – From wearing your seatbelt at all times to adhering to road safety best practices, you can limit your risk of experiencing a significant car crash. You also have to be alert for the behavior of other drivers; many TBIs occur as a result of the other driver’s poor decisions.
- Stay alert – Much of our lives are automated. We get into our daily routines and it can feel dull and routine. However, this doesn’t mean that surprises can’t arise at a moment’s notice. Whether you work in a warehouse or you walk your dogs daily, being alert at all times allows you to react to your surroundings and avoid chance accidents.
If you feel as though you have sustained a TBI, call our Dallas medical practice at (877) 487-8289 for a clear diagnosis and immediate treatment.