What Is Traumatic brain injury?
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by an external mechanical force. It may be a violent blow or a jolt to the brain which causes it to dysfunction. An object such as a bullet penetrating the skull or damaging it may also destroy parts of the brain.
A brain injury is different from an injury to other parts of the body. Body injuries result in dysfunction of only the injured part, whereas, in traumatic brain injury, it affects the total personality and mental abilities of the person. That is because the brain controls all other systems of the body, any injury to it will result in many other related complications.
Traumatic brain injury can be classified into:
TBI is mild when the injured person is unconscious and disoriented for lesser than 30 minutes.
TBI is known to be severe when the injured person loses consciousness and is disoriented for more than 30 minutes. The person may lose memory loss for more than 24 hours.
What Are The Symptoms Of Traumatic brain injury?
Symptoms of TBI are diverse ranging from physical to psychological to emotional. In some cases, symptoms appear immediately after the injury, and in others, it may take weeks.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury:
- Feeling of disorientation, confusion or dazed.
- Not conscious for around a few minutes.
- Loss of balance.
- Loss of sleep.
- Excessive sleep.
- Dysfunction of sense organs like blurred vision, bad taste in mouth, sort of ringing sound in ears, eyes sensitive to sound and light, smelling problems.
Mental or cognitive symptoms-
- A loss of concentration.
- Weak memory.
- Mood swings.
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury:
- A bad headache which is persistent or sometimes worsens.
- Losing consciousness from few minutes to several hours.
- Pupil of one or both eyes dilates.
- Partial or total loss of vision.
- Difficulty in judging distance.
- Loss of stamina.
- Menstrual difficulties.
- Clear fluid flows from nose and ears.
- Too much sleep and inability to be awake.
- Coordination problems.
- Fingers and toes feel numb and weak.
- The patient faces sensory problems similar to mild TBI. Symptoms like difficulty in the perception of touch, movements, temperature, understanding hands and legs positions.
- Problems in reading, writing, slurred speech, not understanding spoken words are also common.
- Cognitive or mental symptoms-
- Unusual behaviour.
- Loss of coordination.
- Losing consciousness from few minutes to several hours.
- Socio-emotional symptoms-
- Emotional instability.
- Lack of motivation.
- Lack of awareness.
What Are The Causes Of Traumatic brain injury?
There are various causes of traumatic brain injury. Basically, the injury is caused by a severe and traumatic blow to the brain. The extent of damage to the brain varies depending on the nature of the event which caused the blow and the severity of the blow.
Some events which result in traumatic brain injury are:
- Falls: A slip in the bathroom, fall from a flight of stairs, falling from the bed or a height, and any other fall which in which the head is severely hurt may result in traumatic brain injury.
- Vehicle accidents causing collisions: Collisions on the road involving different vehicles or when the pedestrian is hit by some vehicle, all these may be the causes of traumatic brain injury.
- Gunshot wounds: Penetration of bullet into the skull is a main cause of TBI.
- Violence: Violence on the roads or domestic violence is a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries.
- Injuries from sports: Accidents while playing some high-intensity sports like boxing, football, soccer, hockey or skateboarding may also result in TBI.
- Explosions: Explosions may cause some particles to get lodged in the skull or brain, damaging brain cells and causing traumatic brain injury.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Traumatic brain injury?
A traumatic brain injury not only affects an individual’s health but can transform his or her entire life and also the life of the family members. Following certain guidelines will certainly help the patient to recover faster:
- After a brain injury, cut back on the workload. Do not rush to resume duties. Workload should be increased gradually.
- Simplify work and other activities. Make life easy by following a consistent routine.
- Since memory is affected, make to-do lists and ask for reminders.
- Do not try to do multi-tasking because a TBI survivor may have coordination issues.
- Practice motor coordination skills by doing activities like playing an instrument, games, writing, etc.
- When doing a task, avoid distractions as much as possible.
- Eating wholesome, healthy food will help the body to repair the damaged brain cells faster.
- Exercise daily.
- Make appointments with a psychiatrist or a counsellor to help deal with depression, anxiety, or any other emotional problems.
- Take the help of support groups and connect with other TBI patients to discuss your problems.
- Take plenty of rest.
- Tips to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury:
- Seat belts and airbags will help in minimising the extent of damage in case of accidents.
- Wearing helmets while riding vehicles or playing certain sports like skateboarding will minimize the impact on the brain, in case there is a fall.
- Handrails in bathrooms will prevent the incidence of slips and falls.
- Keeping stairway clutter free may reduce the risk of falls.
- A nonslip mat in the bathroom is highly useful in preventing slips.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Traumatic brain injury?
Some don’ts for managing traumatic brain injury are:
- Do not indulge in sports or activities which can cause another head injury.
- Do not consume alcohol or non-prescribed drugs. The brain of TBI patient does not deal with these intoxicants in the same way as in normal people.
- Avoid continuous use of computers in the early recovery phase of TBI
- Avoid flying in planes very soon after a TBI because some patients have reported that their TBI symptoms worsened after a flight journey.
- A fall or an accident cannot be predicted, but by avoiding certain scenarios, we can reduce the risk of an accident.
- Do not drive when you are under the influence of intoxicants like alcohol, drugs or non-prescribed medications. Most accidents reported are due to driving after consumption of the above.
What Are The Best Foods For Traumatic brain injury?
Brain utilizes calories to function as well as to repair damaged cells. Hence, the nutrition and calories we supply should be from a healthy source. Also, we should see that a traumatic brain injury patient takes small meals at frequent intervals. Gaining weight after a brain injury is common; hence we must see that the diet has the right amount of calories.
- Fruits and vegetables: A TBI patient should eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables so that there is a continuous supply of vitamins and minerals which help the brain heal faster. Fruits like avocados, apples, pears, oranges, berries, and vegetables like beans, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, gourd and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, fenugreek, etc. are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: Parts of brain cells are made up of omega 3 fatty acids. Hence, your diet should invariably include walnuts, flax seeds, and oily fish.
- Protein: Protein is very important for maintenance and repair of tissues. Hence, eating protein-rich foods like lean meat, beans, and fish is very important in the recovery phase.
- Carbohydrates: Body needs the energy to function and to keep things going, and this energy we get from carbohydrates. Supply your body with healthy carbohydrates like whole wheat, brown rice, millet, oats, and barley.
- Water: Water is very important for TBI people because dehydration is known to alter the physical structure of the brain. Drink water sufficiently.
What Are The Worst Foods For Traumatic brain injury?
- Stay from refined food as it takes a toll on the digestive system. A lot of energy is consumed in digesting refined food which in turn slows down other activities of the body.
- Sugary foods: Research shows that sugary food offers little nutritional value and does not aid recovery process.
- Alcohol: After a brain injury, the tolerance level of alcohol is reduced significantly. Hence, consumption of alcohol has to be avoided completely.
- Fried and salty food have to be avoided because there is a tendency to gain weight after a brain injury.
- Caffeine: Limit the consumption of caffeinated beverages since research shows that caffeine negates the benefits during the recovery process.
What Are The Medicines For Traumatic brain injury?
What Are The Tips To Manage Traumatic brain injury?
Traumatic brain injury is quite a serious health hazard. Other than the above guidelines, one important tip is that a TBI sufferer has to have immense family support because this condition not only impacts person’s body, but the entire persona of the individual is affected. TBI patient suffers personality problems, depression and anxiety. Hence, the caregiver has to be well versed with all the symptoms and has to be skilled enough to tackle various physical as well as behavioural issues.