Traumatic Brain Injury Signs and Symptoms

In some cases, the symptoms and signs of traumatic brain injuries can be so subtle that
they get ignored or dismissed. For days and weeks following an injury, people
may feel and look fine. If you play a sport or perform a job that puts you at
risk of a brain injury, it is important to understand what some of the symptoms
and signs may be. Below are some of the common symptoms that may appear
suddenly within the first 24 hours after getting injured. Oftentimes, symptoms
will get worse in the days following and treatment should be sought by a
medical professional in an emergency room.

Symptoms and Signs of Traumatic Brain Injuries

The symptoms a person may get from a traumatic brain injury
can range widely and involve physical, sensory and mental or cognitive issues.

1. Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

• Vomiting or nausea.

• Loss of consciousness that may last up to a
few minutes or end in a few seconds.

• Problems with speaking.

• Speech problems.

• Severe headaches.

• A feeling of being confused, dazed or

• Difficulty falling asleep.

• Drowsiness or fatigue.

• Loss of balance or severe dizziness.

• Sensory problems that include ringing in the
ears, blurred vision, changes in smell and a bad taste in your mouth.

• Sensitivity to sounds and lights.

• Mental or cognitive symptoms may include
difficulty concentrating, changes in mood or feelings of anxiousness or

2. Moderate and Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

• Losing consciousness for several minutes or

• Headaches that are persistent or worsen over

• Repeated bouts of nausea or vomiting.

• Seizures or convulsions.

• One or both pupils dilating.

• Inability to wake up from sleep.

• Clear fluids draining out of the ears or

• Numbness or weakness in the toes or fingers.

• Loss of coordination.

• Mental or cognitive symptoms can include
profound confusion, slurred speech, unusual behaviors and falling into a coma.

3. Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms in Children

Infants and younger children with traumatic
brain injuries will not be able to communicate sensory problems such as
headaches, confusion and other symptoms. Below are some symptoms an adult may
observe in a child with a traumatic brain injury.

• Easily upset or unusual irritability.

• Changes in nursing or eating habits.

• Changes to their ability to pay attention.

• Inability to be consoled or persistent
crying fits.

• Seizures.

• Sleep habit changes.

• Depression or sadness.

• Loss of interest in activities or favorite

• Drowsiness.

of Traumatic Brain Injuries

1. Altered Consciousness Problems

•Comas- One complication a traumatic brain
injury may cause is a coma. When a person enters a coma, they are unaware and
unconscious of anything happening around them. After days or weeks in a coma,
people can emerge or enter into a vegetative state.

•Vegetative State- When a person enters a
vegetative state, it is often due to damage throughout the brain. For some, a
vegetative state can be permanent, but others may get better in time and resume
a minimally conscious state of mind.

•Minimally Conscious State of Mind- This
conscious state is a condition where some people may be aware of their
environment or themselves. Oftentimes, this is the transition from a person
being in a coma or vegetative state to recovery.

•Brain Death- When there is no activity
measurable in an injury patient’s brain stem or brain, this is referred to as
brain death. This is considered an irreversible condition and removal of
breathing devices often end a patient’s life due to heart failure.

2. Physical Complications

•Infections- Fractures to the skull and the
protective tissues around the brain can lead to issues such as bacteria getting
in and causing infections.

•Seizures- Many people who suffered from a
traumatic brain injury will develop seizures. Recurrent episodes of seizures
are often called post-traumatic epilepsy.

•Vertigo- Another complication is vertigo, and
it is a condition that causes dizziness and loss of balance.

•Hydrocephalus- Hydrocephalus is when there is
fluid buildup in the brain that increases swelling and pressure around it. It
may also cause blood vessel damage that can lead to blood clots, stroke or
other issues.

How to
Treat and Deal with Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries are typically
emergencies and need to be seen by a doctor right away. Your doctor will often
perform an MRI or CT scan of your brain to see the extent of the injuries. Mild
traumatic brain injuries will often require no treatment except resting and
mild pain relievers to treat your headaches. Ideally, it is best for a person
with a brain injury to be monitored before they’re cleared by the doctor to
resume their normal activities.

Severe traumatic brain injuries require the
use of medications, rehabilitation or surgery due to the mental and physical
complications resulting from the damage to the brain. It is often in a person’s
best interest to seek support to help cope with their injuries by joining
support groups, avoiding distractions and seeing a therapist.