As a nurse, you will come across people suffering from various health emergencies. Learning about different injuries and medical conditions can put you in a better place to achieve positive outcomes for your patients. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are a common emergency situation you may encounter. This post will educate you on TBIs, the different types, and how to treat them.
Traumatic brain injuries are the most common form of brain injury. In this term, the word ‘trauma’ means physical trauma caused by a physical blow to the head. Not all physical traumas result in the same severity or type of damage. No matter how serious or non-serious a TBI may appear, it is impossible to diagnose TBIs based on symptoms or the force of physical trauma alone. It is essential for anybody suspected of suffering from a TBI to seek immediate medical attention.
There are several types of TBIs, with the most common four being:
- Concussion: Also called mild TBIs, concussions are the most common type of brain injury. Caused by a sudden blow to the head, concussions effectively shake the brain causing mild to severe damage to the brain.
- Brain Contusion: Brain contusions are similar to concussions and can happen alongside them. Contusions are bruises cause by small blood vessels that burst and leak blood in an area. Brain contusions can also vary in severity based on the location of the impact and how the trauma damaged the brain.
- Axonic Injury: Axonic brain injuries are a type of TBI in which the brain does not receive enough oxygen to function properly. Diffuse Axonal Injuries can occur as a result of substantial movement of the brain that damage the brain’s connection to the spinal cord.
- Penetrating Brain Injury: Penetrating brain injuries occur when an object pierces through the skull, possibly causing skull fragments, hair, skin, or the object itself to make contact with the brain. Depending on the force of the trauma, penetrating brain injuries can cause severe and permanent damage to a large or concentrated part of the brain.
An individual with a history of repeated concussions or multiple head injuries can suffer from several problems, including ongoing issues with memory, headaches, impaired physical skills, difficulty concentrating, and balance disturbances.
Besides affecting physical functions, TBIs can also increase a person’s risk of developing mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, lead to suicidal thoughts due to impaired quality of life, and it can also cause sleep disturbances.
Recovering from TBIs, partially or fully, can take a long time depending on the severity of the person’s injuries.
As the swelling decreases, the blood flow and brain chemistry may improve, possibly helping the brain function to improve. During recovery, the fastest improvement is likely to occur in the first six months after the injury. Healthy behaviors like exercise, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and a few other recommended practices can help improve an individual’s chance of recovery.
The treatment course for traumatic brain injuries can vary based on the severity and type of injury. A physician may need to perform surgery or rely on medicine to help a patient suffering from a TBI.
- Surgery: Patients with mild or severe head injuries may require surgical intervention to remove large contusions or hematomas that are applying pressure on the brain.
- Non-Surgical Treatments: Depending on the severity of the injuries, a physician may prescribe medication to adjust the blood pressure in the patient to help them recover as they closely monitor them during their recovery.
Taking timely action is essential to maximize the chances of a positive outcome for a patient suffering from a TBI. As a nurse, educating patients and their families on TBIs, how to detect them, their long-term effects, and treating the issue are essential to delivering better care.
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