Brain Injuries We Treat
Most brain injuries result from:
- a blow to the head
- lack of oxygen
- a stroke that causes blood vessels to rupture or become clogged
- infections (meningitis)
- brain tumors
- overdoes of medications
- and/or certain diseases
Changes that occur after the brain injury depend on the severity and location of the damage. Physical, emotional, mental, and behavioral changes can be temporary or long term. An Injury to one area often affects many functions simultaneously. In some cases, when one part of the brain fails to operate properly, other parts may eventually compensate for the loss. Readjustment may take time and may result in only partial recovery.
Common Brain Injuries We Treat
- Increased intracranial pressure
- Skull fractures
Lack of oxygen to the brain is called anoxia and quickly leads to brain injury. Since the blood carries oxygen throughout the body, any interference in circulation means a decrease in the oxygen supply to vital organs. Strokes, serious infections, drowning, or various accidents that cause severe blood loss, can result in anoxia.
Severe brain injury can also result in coma. This is defined as a prolonged state of unconsciousness in which the patient is unresponsive and unaware of surroundings or has minimal response. The length of a coma caries from person to person and can last form a few days to several months.
Family members and friends often wonder if comatose patient’s can hear. Sometimes patients show signs that they understand by following a simple request, like squeezing a hand. Occasionally, they seem to be calmed by a familiar voice or music and people should respond to a comatose patient as if they understand.
A concussion is a brief loss of consciousness following a blow to the head. Individuals experience a partial, temporary memory loss after a concussion. Whey the regain consciousness, they may have a lingering headache, forgetfulness, muscular weakness, and even paralysis with a more intense blow.
A contusion involves the bruising of the brain tissue. This can occur beneath a skull fracture or in response to an impact in which the brain shifts and rebounds against the skull. The tissue damage and bleeding associated with a contusion can be serious. A severe blow to one side of the head can cause even greater damage on the opposite side, called “contrecoup”.
A strong blow to the head may damage or rupture the blood vessels inside the brain, leading to heavy bleeding (hemorrhage) or slow leakage of blood from the vessel. Other causes of bleeding are brain laceration (tearing of brain tissue) and penetrating wounds from bullets, knives, or other sharp objects.
The accumulation of blood form theses injuries (hematomas) is classified into one of three groups.
Epidural hematoma bleeding occurs in the most outer membrane covering the skull. This occurs most frequently in conjunction with a skull fracture on the side of the head over the temporal lobe. Although the underlying brain may not have been damaged initially, the pressure from the bleeding hematoma can cause brain injury.
Subdural hematoma is when bleeding occurs in the underlying membranes covering the brain itself. These occur in association with direct damage to the brain and may produce symptoms immediately or gradually as blood seeps out of the torn vessels.
Intracerebral hematoma is a bleeding directly in and around the brain tissue, leading to the build up of blood within the brain. These hematomas usually result from penetrating wounds, or blood vessels which rupture.
Patients’ symptoms following a brain injury are often a direct result of a build-up of pressure within the skull. To help reduce this increased intracranial pressure, surgeons remove hematomas and carefully monitor signs and symptoms of increased pressure, including decreased alertness, drowsiness, coma, severe headache, forceful vomiting, weakness or paralysis or arms and/or legs irregular breathing patterns and changes in the pupils' reaction to light. In addition, they often insert special devices beneath the skull to monitor pressure so they can detect changes early on and respond quickly.
Five to 10 percent of all traumatic brain injury patients will have seizures or convulsions soon after a brain injury or even years later. Seizures may indicate irritation or lack of oxygen to certain areas of the brain. During these convulsions, patients often lose consciousness and their body shakes and writhes. Since uncontrolled seizures can cause further damage to the brain, medications are used to prevent or control them.
A strong blow to the head can cause the skull bone to break. This may be a simple cracking without displacement of the bone. These fractures usually heal on their own.