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Heads-up on brain injuries

| Updated on January 16, 2018

A head-injury victim being taken to hospital (File photo)

A car accident. A football tackle. An unfortunate fall. Such events can cause head injuries. And it can happen to anyone, at any age, and they can damage the brain, says the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).

The damage happens when a sudden movement of the head and brain causes the brain to bounce or twist in the skull, stretching and injuring brain cells and creating chemical changes. This damage is called a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. The USFDA is researching TBI and encouraging the development of new medical devices to help diagnose and treat it.

A TBI is often caused by a bump, blow, jolt, or explosive blast to the head, or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the brain’s normal function. Not all hits to the head result in a TBI. But when it happens, TBI can range from “mild” (such as a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (such as an extended period of unconsciousness or major problems with thinking and behaviour after injury). A concussion is a form of mild TBI.

Symptoms of mild TBI include headache, confusion, blurred vision, and behavioural changes. Moderate and severe TBI can include those symptoms plus repeated vomiting or nausea, slurred speech, weakness in the arms or legs, and problems with thinking abilities. A medical examination is the first step in diagnosing potential head injury. Assessment usually includes a neurological examination, a typically painless examination that includes an evaluation of thinking, motor function (movement), sensory function, coordination, and reflexes.

Source: USFDA

Published on September 16, 2016

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