Neurology Disorders » Traumatic Brain Injury

What is TBI?

TBI is an injury which can be caused by sudden blow or penetrating object to the head that that disrupts normal functioning of the brain.  Some common causes of TBI include road accidents, falls, sports-related impacts, and penetrating injuries.  The severity of symptoms will depend on which part of the brain is affected.  Symptoms of a TBI may not appear until days or weeks following the injury.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

There are various tools and evaluations used to assess the location and extent of the damage:

  • Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)

  • Measurements for Level of TBI

  • Speech and Language Tests

  • Cognition and Neuropsychological Tests

  • Imaging Tests

The Glasgow Coma Scale is commonly used tool for assessing the level of consciousness after TBI. The standardized 15-point test measures a person’s ability to open his or her eyes and respond to spoken questions or physical prompts for movement. A total score of 3-8 indicates a severe head injury; 9-12 indicates moderate injury; and 13-15 is classified as mild injury.

Evaluations by occupational, physical and speech therapists can help clarify specific deficits.

One of the critical elements to a person’s prognosis is the severity of the injury.  Much of the of the damage related to moderate to severe TBI develops from secondary injuries which happen days or weeks after the initial trauma.

Mild TBI may not require specific treatment other than rest. However, it is very important to follow a health care provider’s instructions for complete rest and gradual return to normal activities after a mild TBI.

Signs and Symptoms of TBI:

• Loss of consciousness
• Persistent headache
• Fatigue
• Visual problems
• Nausea and vomiting
• Convulsions
• Memory disturbance
• Poor coordination
• Weakness or Numbness
• Behavioral issues such a depressed mood

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