A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Understanding traumatic brain injuries: 3 things to know

There are a variety of ways to treat traumatic brain injuries.

The CDC defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” A mild TBI may have symptoms that resolve after a period of time. More serious injuries may have lifelong effects or cause death.

Behavior and mood changes

In addition to the physical injury to the brain, TBI may make a person more prone to anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. It could also result in higher levels of anger, aggression, apathy and lack of enjoyment in normal activities.

“The behavioral or mood disorders we see in the wake of a TBI span the full gamut,” said Dr. Alison Jones, a Marshfield Clinic Health System psychiatrist. “We might also see changes to memory, executive functioning and overall cognitive ability.”

Individualized treatment

Treatment for a TBI varies as widely as the injuries themselves. In severe cases emergency surgery may be needed. Occupational and physical therapy may be needed to help the brain and body re-learn certain functions. Cognitive behavioral therapy may help in the emotional aspect of recovery.

Jones said while we often think of TBI as being caused by a single event like a fall, they can also result from repetitive trauma, like a football player may experience from years of hard collisions.

Have patience while recovering

“The biggest thing in terms of recovery is that people need to accept that it’s going to take time,” Jones said. “It’s an acute injury to the brain. It won’t change back to normal overnight. However in many cases, with time,  it’s possible to get back to fairly normal or completely normal life.”

There are resources available for people who have suffered a TBI. A head injury of any kind is serious.  Seek immediate medical attention if you sustain one.

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