Brain injury is most often caused by traffic accidents, falls, sports, stroke, anoxia (lack of oxygen), infection, tumors and other illnesses. The number of young people suffering severe brain injury is on the increase. It’s by far the most frequent cause of death in children under 15, although the statistics are generally very high in the under-45 age group.
Brain injuries do not heal like other injuries. Recovery is a functional recovery and the consequence of two similar injuries may be very different. Symptoms may appear right away or may not be present for days or weeks after the injury.
Traumatic brain injury, often referred to as TBI, is a severe injury to the skull or brain, brain tissue and blood vessels that is usually the result of a heavy blow to the head. According to one U.S. study, 80% of severe or moderately severe brain injuries are caused by traffic accidents. Around 15 % are the result of falls or accidents in the home, followed by acts of violence and accidents at work or playing sports.
There are three levels of gravity in traumatic brain injury: brief unconsciousness (less than 5 minutes); unconsciousness lasting more than 5 minutes; and persistent unconsciousness. These conditions are often caused by bleeding in the brain, which can appear immediately after the injury or up to 48 hours following the accident. Bedside monitoring is essential. Symptoms or effects of brain injury can include headaches of increasing severity, clouding or loss of consciousness, clear or watery bloody liquid running from the nose and ears, bruising under the eyes, differently enlarged pupils, a strong, slow pulse, breathing difficulties, vomiting, headache, fainting, paralysis, impaired speech, coordination problems, problems with regulating body temperature, brain function problems and perception problems.
TBI can cause long-lasting damage to brain function, which varies depending on which region of the brain was damaged. In contrast to a slight brain injury, or moderately severe TBI, whose symptoms disappear after a few days or months, the damage that results from severe trauma can last a lifetime.
Intensive and early rehabilitation (with occupational therapy) improves the prognosis.