Our brain is the control center of our body. It regulates almost all of life’s basic processes. But just like any other organ, the brain can also experience injury through primary and secondary causes. Brain damage involves the destruction or degeneration of the cells of the brain through trauma, stroke or acquired causes. Traumatic brain injury occurs when the brain gets damaged by an outside force, such as in the case of accidents. In stroke, there may be a clot or a foreign body occluding a blood vessel in the brain, thereby causing brain injury. Other causes may be from internal causes.
Brain injury has life-changing consequences both for the patient and his or her loved ones. First of all, brain injury can affect how one thinks, remembers and learns. A person who has experienced brain injury can experience changes in speed of thought, memory, comprehension, speech, behavior and emotions. The patient may also have physical problems resulting from brain injury. This is why we have to recognize early signs of brain injury as much as possible to prevent these dreadful consequences.
During head injury, there are several changes that take place within the brain and the spinal fluid. The spinal fluid is the fluid that surrounds the brain and acts as a cushion and as a shock-absorber. As a result of the sudden impact to the head, a concussion can result immediately.
The signs and symptoms of a concussion can last for days, weeks or even longer. This depends on the severity of brain injury. In older persons and in younger children, the effects may be longer.
The early signs of brain injury are symptoms related to thinking or remembering, physical effects, emotional or mood effects and sleep changes. Early in the event of an injury to the brain, a patient may have difficulty in thinking clearly and may feel slowed down. He or she may have difficulty concentrating or may have difficulty in remembering new information. The patient may also experience headache or blurred vision and may have nausea, dizziness or vomiting. Other people may have sensitivity to noise or light or may have balance problems. Still other people may feel tired, as if lacking in energy.
Trauma can also affect a person emotionally. He or she may experience sadness, irritability, nervousness, anxiety or too much emotionality after the event. The person may also experience sleep problems, such as sleeping more than usual, sleeping less than usual or may have trouble falling asleep.
Not all immediate signs of a concussion need immediate medical attention. Danger signs you have to watch out in adults include a headache that doesn’t go away, weakness or numbness in the body, repeated nausea or vomiting and slurred speech. Bring the patient immediately to the emergency room if the patient cannot be awakened or feels very drowsy, or has one pupil in the eye larger than the other.
Bring the patient to the emergency room immediately if the patient develops seizures or convulsions, cannot recognize people or places, develops unusual behavior, becomes more confused or agitated or loses consciousness. In cases of children, take them to the emergency room if in addition to the signs and symptoms listed above, they will not stop crying or they refuse to feed.