Health & Safety

March 10, 2014

Know the symptoms, dangers of brain injuries

Gustavo Bahena
Public Affairs Office NTC and Fort Irwin

A traumatic brain injury is a disruption of brain function resulting from a blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury. A TBI can occur on the battlefield, on the football field, on the playground, in a car accident, and even at home.

There are four categories of TBI including mild, moderate, severe and penetrating. A mild TBI (mTBI), which is also known as a con- cussion, is the most common form of TBI. An mTBI/concussion is a brain injury that requires prompt treatment; it is treatable, but early detection is extremely important.

Common causes of mTBI/concussion on the battlefield include blasts, vehicle collisions, or blows to the head. Common symptoms following an mTBI/concussion may include headache, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems.

What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?

According to the Center for Disease Control, most people with a concussion recover quickly and fully. But for some people, symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer. In general, recovery may be slower among older adults, young children, and teens. Those who have had a concussion in the past are also at risk of having another one and may find that it takes longer to recover if they have another concussion.

Symptoms of concussion usually fall into four categories:
(table)
Symptoms may appear right away, while others may not be noticed for days or months after the injury, or until the person starts resuming their everyday life and more demands are placed upon them. Sometimes, people do not recognize or admit they are having problems. Others may not understand why they are having problems and what their problems really are, which can make them nervous and upset.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be difficult to sort out. Early on, problems may be missed by the person with the concussion, family members or doctors. People may look fine even though they are acting or feeling differently.

When to seek immediate medical attention:
Danger signs in adults: In rare cases, a dangerous blood clot may form on the brain after a concussion and crowd the brain against the skull. Contact your health care professional or emergency department right away if you have any of the following danger signs after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body:

  • Headache that gets worse and does not go away.
  • Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination.
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea.
  • Slurred speech.
  • People checking on you should take you to an emergency depart- ment right away if you:
  • Look very drowsy or cannot be awakened.
  • Have one pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other.
  • Have convulsions or seizures.
  • Cannot recognize people or places.
  • Are getting more and more confused, restless, or agitated.
  • Have unusual behavior.
  • Lose consciousness (a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously and the person should be carefully monitored).

Danger signs in children: Take children to the emergency depart- ment right away if they received a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, and:

  • Have any of the danger signs for adults listed above.
  • Will not stop crying and cannot be consoled.
  • Will not nurse or eat.



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