Learn What Causes A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), How It Can Age You Or Your Senior Loved One, And How It’s Treated
Have you or your senior loved one suffered a head injury? The long-term consequences of such injuries aren’t always noticeable. Pegasus home healthcare professionals in Tujunga and elsewhere describe how your brain may age after an injury.
The human brain is an incredibly complex organ. Your body, mind, senses, and everything else about you depends on the functions of your brain.
Outwardly, it appears to be a wrinkly blob of tissue with no distinguishing features. Inwardly, the brain is divided into many sections, and each part has a specific job to do. That means that the consequences of a brain injury vary according to the damaged area.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Your brain can be injured in a multitude of ways. Most people know that a blow to the head is the source of most injuries. These are generally described as traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs.
A TBI can result from:
- Abuse or assault
- Car accident or other accidents
- Penetration by a bullet or other object
- Recreational activities
There are, however, numerous other sources of brain injuries. These include non-traumatic causes such as:
- Diseases like meningitis
- Drug overdose
A mild TBI usually has temporary short-term symptoms. A severe TBI physically damages the brain and usually has long-term or permanent symptoms.
Symptoms Of A Brain Injury
Symptoms of a mild TBI can include, among others:
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty remembering or concentrating
- Mood changes
- Momentary unconsciousness
- Nausea or vomiting
The symptoms may be immediate or delayed.
These symptoms are present in a severe TBI, but they are more intense and longer-lasting. The individual loses consciousness. If they fall asleep, they are difficult to awaken.
Other symptoms can include:
- Confusion and slurred speech
- Convulsions or seizures
- Loss of coordination
- Numbness in the extremities
- Unusual or agitated behavior
Some individuals lose their ability to make sound judgments. They may not be able to exercise self-control. Their ability to communicate effectively can be impaired.
If the TBI affects more than one part of the brain, the individual may go into a coma. Or the individual may enter a vegetative state, in which they are awake but unaware of their surroundings.
It’s possible to recover from a coma or vegetative state. Either state may also be permanent. In some cases, brain death results.
Long-Term Effects Of A Brain Injury
Medical researchers are investigating the relationship between brain injuries and other diseases. The results are not yet conclusive, but there may be a correlation between TBIs and degenerative diseases. Those diseases include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
One study in 2015 indicated that the brains of TBI victims aged faster than those of uninjured people. The more severe the injury, the greater the discrepancy between chronological age and brain age. The brains in some individuals were as much as five years older than the rest of their body.
The research shows that TBIs may generate secondary changes to the brain structure. It appears that those changes increase the rate of brain atrophy. As time passes, individuals experience cognitive impairment and other age-related issues.
One mild TBI may not lead to permanent brain damage. There is evidence that repeated TBIs, even mild ones, can result in chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Individuals who are boxers or play sports like football often suffer TBIs and CTE.
CTE is a progressive brain disease for which is no treatment. The early symptoms are the same as TBI. It can be years before the symptoms appear, and CTE eventually may result in dementia and death.
Other studies show that individuals with a TBI have a lower life expectancy than the general population. Their life span depends on their age at the time of the injury. Whether they are male or female and the extent of their disabilities also affect how long they live.
Individuals with a TBI may lose muscle and skeletal strength. This happens if the TBI was the result of an accident that caused other bodily injuries. As with uninjured people, individuals with a TBI will be in better health if they exercise.
Treatment For A TBI
Healthcare professionals have several diagnostic tools to evaluate the severity of a TBI. They often obtain the most information from the person describing the incident. They may then decide to order tests such as a CT scan or an MRI.
A TBI may cause the brain to swell. Physicians can insert a probe that measures pressure building up because of swelling or bleeding. They can then decide on a course of treatment.
A mild TBI may only require observation and rest. A severe TBI usually requires a trip to an emergency room when it occurs. All the person’s injuries will receive medical attention.
Immediate TBI treatments are intended to minimize damage to the brain tissue. Surgery may be necessary. Most individuals will then need rehabilitation.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Pegasus home healthcare services in Tujunga and our locations include care for all types of injury. We tailor our assistance to meet individual needs.