Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden blow or jolt to the head or body happens. This may also happen when an object penetrates the skull, causing damage to the brain, also called an open head injury. Brain injuries can affect all aspects of our lives, including personality since it is controlled by the brain. Brain injuries do not heal like other injuries may heal, some TBI’s require short or long term rehab. Some patients may never recover from a TBI.

Preventing Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injuries usually result from motor vehicle accidents, sports, falls or sometimes self-inflicted. You can prevent some of these injuries from happening by:

  • Never drinking and driving, or using drugs while operating a motor vehicle.
  • Wearing your seatbelt at all times, whether you are driving or riding.
  • Making sure your child is in the correct car seat or booster seat for their size.
  • Always wearing a helmet while biking, skiing, playing contact sports, riding a horse, rollerblading and skateboarding.
  • Removing items that may be a tripping or fall hazard, especially for elderly who may already be a fall risk.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury can range from mild to moderate to severe, depending on the symptoms and their severity. Symptoms of traumatic brain injury may include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty with memory
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Coma
  • Pupil changes
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in limbs
  • Lack of or poor coordination
  • Restless or agitated.

Treatment of a Traumatic Brain Injury

A patient with a mild traumatic brain injury may require no treatment, but may benefit from a structured evaluation and various forms of therapy. They will still need to be monitored closely at home for any worsening or new symptoms. Follow ups with doctors may be necessary.

For moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries, the doctor will make sure there is an adequate oxygen and blood supply, maintain blood pressure, and to prevent any further injury to the head or neck. These patients may be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit to be carefully monitored.

Surgery may be needed for patients with a severe traumatic brain injury to relieve pressure on the brain or repair skull fractures:

  • Remove hematomas (bleeding) to reduce pressure in the brain.
  • Repairing skull fractures or removing pieces of skull in the brain.
  • Intracranial pressure monitoring may be needed if patient has contusions, or swelling in the brain.
  • Opening the skull to drain accumulated cerebral spinal fluid.

Medications may be given immediately to limit any other damage:

  • Diuretics may be given to help reduce pressure inside the brain by reducing fluid in tissues and increasing urine output.
  • Anti-seizure drugs for those who may be at risk of seizures to avoid further brain damage.
  • Coma-inducing drugs may be given to put patient in temporary coma as a comatose brain needs less oxygen to function.

Rehabilitation is also used in moderate and severe cases of traumatic brain injuries. Depending on the severity and exact needs, this may include:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Psychiatry
  • Social Work
  • Speech/Language Therapy.



This page is intended to be educational, but does not take the place of your physician or surgeon’s advice for your specific procedure or treatment. You should always consult with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

Call Michigan Head & Spine Institute at 248-784-3667.


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