When trauma to the brain occurs, it is sometimes referred to as a traumatic brain injury. Various types of injuries can cause brain trauma. Most commonly it is a result of a motor vehicle accident; however, other types of injuries to the head also can cause brain trauma. For instance, falls, gunshot wounds, and blows to the head from an assault may all lead to a brain injury. When an infant or young child is shaken violently it can also cause brain injury.
Symptoms of brain trauma may vary depending on the extent of the damage to the brain and part of the brain which is affected. When an open brain injury occurs, the skull and brain are penetrated, causing bleeding and damage to the brain tissue. In a closed head injury the brain is knocked against the skull from some type of force and bleeding, swelling and pressure can develop. Either type of trauma can result in mild to severe brain injuries.
Brain trauma which is mild may cause symptoms including a headache, confusion, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, mood changes and blurred vision. Symptoms may only last a few minutes to a day or two. More severe injuries to the brain can result in trouble walking and talking. A person may have confusion, seizures and a loss of consciousness. In the most serious brain injuries, the area of the brain which is responsible for breathing becomes impaired and breathing stops.
Infants and children who have brain trauma may have some of the same symptoms as adults. However, in young children who do not have verbal skills yet, symptoms may not be as obvious as with an adult. Young children may appear excessively sleepy and be difficult to wake up. An infant may be very irritable and refuse to eat.
Symptoms from brain trauma may occur immediately following the injury or occur a few hours to a few days later. The delay in the onset of symptoms may be due to a gradual increase in pressure as the brain swells or bleeding starts. Since it may be difficult for an individual to determine if head trauma has a caused a brain injury, it’s safest to see a doctor after a blow to the head.
Treatment for brain trauma symptoms may include medication to prevent brain swelling and reduce damage. Medication may be given to help with nausea. Individuals with severe brain injuries often require extensive and lengthy medical care.