Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a significant health issue in Arizona. More than 5,000 cases of traumatic brain injury occur annually in our state and hospitalize approximately one out of every 1,000 Arizonans.
HonorHealth's Level I Trauma Centers at Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center, Deer Valley Medical Center and John C. Lincoln Medical Center are an essential part of how we treat the most severe, time-sensitive cases of head injury.
While the severity of TBI varies, the long-term effects are often devastating and life-altering.
What is Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injuries typically result from accidents in which the head strikes an object. However, other brain injuries, such as those caused by insufficient oxygen, poisoning or infection can cause similar outcomes.
TBI can disrupt brain function and potentially lead to brain damage. Depending on the cause and severity of the brain injury, brain damage can range from mild to severe. In more serious cases of traumatic brain injury, complications can be fatal.
Damage from TBI can be confined to one area of the brain (bruising and swelling of brain tissue due to impact) or widespread (nerve damage due to shaking or concussion).
Initial symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may include headache, blurred vision, seizures, dizziness, confusion, nausea, dilated pupils, paralysis, loss of consciousness, memory loss, difficulty breathing, or coma.
Functions that can be affected include speech and language, memory, mobility, personality and others. Because the brain controls all bodily functions, any damage to the brain, regardless of severity, can impair physical and psychological activity.
Mild traumatic brain injury victims may experience a brief loss of consciousness, temporary memory loss, headache, slurred speech or dilated pupils. Moderate to severe brain injury victims may lose consciousness for an extended period of time (more than 30 minutes) and have long-term memory loss, seizures or convulsions, nausea or vomiting, limb paralysis, vision loss, hearing loss or bowel control loss.
If you receive a blow to the head, it's imperative that you receive immediate medical attention, regardless of the immediate symptoms.
TBI Treatment Options
Treatment for a head injury depends on its type and severity. Common procedures include ventilator support, medications, continuous monitoring of vital signs, and ventriculostomy. Ventriculostomy is a tool for measuring pressure inside the head and draining cerebrospinal fluid, if necessary, to decrease pressure within the brain.
Routine neurological assessments typically include taking reflexes, measuring responses to pain and reviewing your mental state.
Neuro-intensivists and neuro ICU physicians are able to provide:
- Long-term EEG monitoring.
- Direct brain oxygen monitoring.
- Continuous intracranial pressure monitoring.
- Transcranial Doppler.
After injury, the brain frequently sets off on a vicious cycle of self-destruction due to swelling and decreases in oxygenation. This can sometimes lead to seizures and high fevers. Armed with these unique tools the neuro-intensivist can interrupt this vicious cycle and set the brain on its way to recovery.