Traumatic Brain Injury Complications

Traumatic Brain Injury Complications

Common TBI Complications

A TBI can cause a range of functional changes that can lead to long term damage affecting thinking, language, learning, emotions, behavior and sensation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 3.17 million Americans currently live with a long-term TBI complications that require assistance. Many complications can arise from Traumatic Brain Injuries, including:

Seizure: A large percentage of TBI sufferers experience either immediate seizures or early seizures. Immediate seizures occur within 24 hours of the initial injury. These seizures increase the risk of early seizures, which occur within one week after the initial injury. However, these types of seizures have no link in increasing the possibility of epilepsy.

Infection: Infections like meningitis can affect the tears in the brain by letting in air and bacteria. Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. A TBI can potentially spread the infection to other parts of the brain and nervous system.

Stroke: Damage to major vessels leading to the brain can block blood flow and lead to stroke, either from bleeding of the artery or the formation of a blood clot at the injury site. Headache, vomiting, seizures, paralysis, and semi consciousness can also be caused by blood clots.

Coma: TBI sufferers may fall into comas and become unconscious and unresponsive for a few days or weeks after the injury. After this amount of time, some will gradually awaken and become conscious, or enter a vegetative state or die. Those that fall into a vegetative state for over a year rarely make a full recovery and require an extensive life care plan.

Cognitive and sensory disabilities: TBI complications can lead to impaired reasoning and problem-solving skills. Short-term memory loss is the most common of these impairments. Sensory problems such as hand-eye coordination, taste and smell, constant ringing in the ear, and double vision are also common.

Personality changes: Personality changes and unstable emotions are typical with brain injuries. Impulse control is also impaired, resulting in inappropriate behavior, especially during recovery.

Alzheimer’s disease: Alzheimer’s disease, characterized by memory loss and the deterioration of cognitive abilities, can arise from TBI. The more severe the injury is to the head, the more likely it is that one will develop Alzheimer’s.

Parkinson’s disease: Although rare, Parkinson’s disease may develop secondary to TBI many years after the initial injury occurred. Symptoms include slow movement, stiffness, trembling, and stooped posture, and will, once they appear, progress steadily throughout life.

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE): Repeated head trauma, including symptomatic concussions and asymptomatic subconcussive blows to the head can lead to a progressive degenerative disease called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is most commonly found in athletes in contact sports prone to traumatic brain injuries, including football, ice hockey and wrestling. CTE is associated with memory loss, depression, impaired judgment, aggression, impulse control problems, confusion and progressive dementia.

Long Term Disability: Long term damage resulting from TBI complications appear to be more common than previously believed. According to new research recently published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, patients that sustained a head injury showed a high occurrence of disability (51 percent) up to 14 years after sustaining the injury. Patients in the study showed signs of higher stress levels, lower self-esteem, poorer cognitive function, and higher levels of anxiety and depression after sustaining a TBI. Researchers concluded that “disability is common 12 -14 years after hospital admission with a [head injury].” For some patients, scientists added, “there is a dynamic process of change in disability over time that is associated with self-perceptions of control.”

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