Causes and Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury can have a wide range of physical and psychological effects, often making it difficult to immediately identify. Usually, traumatic brain injury results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body. It can also be caused by penetration of brain tissue from a foreign substance or a piece of bone.

According to the Mayo Clinic, traumatic brain injury can range from mild to severe. Mild traumatic brain injuries tend to have short-term affects, while more severe tend to have sustaining long-term injuries or death.

Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Falls, typically from a height
  • Vehicle-related collisions
  • Violence
  • Sports injuries
  • Explosive blasts and other combat injuries

People Most at Risk for Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Children, especially newborns to four years old
  • Young adults, especially between 15 and 24 years old
  • Adults age 60 and older
  • Males in any age group

Symptoms of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
  • State of being dazed, confused, or disoriented
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Problems with speech
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than normal
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in mouth
  • Changes in sense of smell
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Mood changes or mood swings
  • Feelings of depression or anxiousness

Symptoms of Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Loss of consciousness for several minutes to hours
  • Persistent or worsening headache
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Clear fluid draining from nose or ears
  • Inability to wake from sleep
  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
  • Loss of coordination
  • Profound confusion
  • Agitation, combativeness, or other unusual behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma and other disorders of consciousness

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury in Children

  • Change in nursing or eating habits
  • Unusual or easy irritability
  • Persistent crying and inability to be consoled
  • Change in ability to pay attention
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Seizures
  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities

These causes and symptoms of traumatic brain injuries are just an overview. Always see a doctor if a blow to the head or body causes concern or behavioral changes. With 1.7 million Americans suffering a brain injury each year, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms to look out for. Traumatic brain injury is the fourth leading cause of death, with a brain injury occurring every 21 seconds. Men between the ages of 14-24 have the highest risk of brain injury.

Treatment from a traumatic brain injury varies depending on the severity of the injury. Mild traumatic brain injuries usually require no treatment other than rest, over-the-counter pain reliever, and close monitoring by a caregiver. Moderate to severe injuries will often need medical care and monitoring. Medications, surgery, and rehabilitation could be necessary to ensure the best recovery possible.