By the time a person has fully developed their brain consists of 99,000,000 nerve cells working together to allow their body to act, think, feel and even conduct involuntary action. For such a vitally important part of the body it may seem surprising that the brain is soft and fairly easy to injure with springy gray matter and more dense bundles of nerves called white matter. The different densities can cause the brain to move at different speeds when the brain is jolted suddenly causing internal damage. (sometimes referred to as axial shearing).
The signs and symptoms of brain injury are very important to diagnose and seek treatment for. Often the individual that has been injured does not know that they have been injured, and may be resistant to getting treatment. Symptoms like nausea, confusion, pupils that are less reactive to light, and headaches can be telltale signs that a brain injury, brain bleed, or concussion has occurred. Any brain injury involving a head trauma will be categorized as a traumatic brain injury. The effect on the functioning on the brain can be as drastic as you might expect if you hit your cell phone with a hammer. The blow may do nothing, but also may be devastating.
Often particular areas of the brain are injured by certain types of incidents. For instance, the front part of the brain, the frontal lobe, is often injured by direct contact to the front of the skull or by sudden changes in speed. Injuries to this part of the brain often result in disruption of concentration, and management of emotions. Sometimes this type of injury disrupts brain function in a limited way or for a limited time, other times permanent damage to the brain’s functioning can occur as a result of brain matter (nerve cells dying)
Brain Injury Symptoms:
Signs and symptoms of a brain injury to be on the lookout for:
- Pain or pressure in the head (headache or migraine),
- vomiting or upset stomach,
- lack of ability to focus,
It is normal for an individual who has suffered a brain injury to not be aware that their functioning has been altered, and it is very important for family members to insist that the individual seek medical treatment and get a CT-scan or MRI of the head.
The best way to determine whether or not an injury to the brain has occurred is to detect a change from normal in the functioning or abilities of the person who has been injured. Normal is called a baseline and should be established prior to the injury by testing and measurements. If there is no baseline it is more difficult to detect an issue and physicians will have to rely on what is average for individuals who are like the injured person.
The symptoms that an injured individual may exhibit may likely get worse throughout the day as the brain struggles to keep up with healing and rerouting signals.
New testing will continue to improve our ability to detect brain injuries and manage them prior to the injured person participating in contact sports or being taken off brain rest.
Often the best thing for an injured individual is rest once the symptoms have stabilized. Brain rest includes low physical activity, low stimulation and proper nutrition. With proper management often symptoms associated with brain injuries improve over time and often improve up to a year after the injury occurs and sometimes disappear completely. This is because the brain is remarkably capable of healing itself and rerouting signals, a trait that is called plasticity by neurologists and neuropsychologists.