What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, is typically the result of a strong force acting on the brain, such as a sudden blow or impact to the head. When an individual encounters such a force, the brain collides with the inside of the skull, potentially causing bruising and deformation of the brain’s surface. The movement of the brain in the skull may result in the stretching or tearing of the brain’s axons, resulting in interrupted neuron communication and reduced brain function. TBI symptoms range from mild-to-severe.

“Through neuroimaging and tests of memory and learning, we’ve found that brain white matter is affected by multiple concussions, specifically in athletes. We’ve learned that even when a concussion isn’t diagnosed, studies show changes in brain white matter directly related to the frequency and severity of brain injuries.”

– Tom McAllister, MD, Chair, Department of Psychiatry, IU School of Medicine, and Principal Investigator for the NCAA-DOD Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium

Leading Causes of TBI

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a substantial cause for death and injury in the United States, contributing to approximately 2.8 million emergency department visits and hospitalizations, and 56,000 deaths in 2013. Traumatic brain injury can be caused by a multitude of incidents, including falls, motor vehicle crashes, assault and blunt-force trauma.

Symptoms of TBI

Traumatic brain injury symptoms range from mild to severe, based on the force of the impact and extent of the damage. For mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, the person may never lose consciousness or may only lose consciousness for a very brief period of time. Other symptoms include headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness or loss of balance, fatigue or drowsiness, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, sensitivity to light and sound, and trouble with memory and concentration.

Treatment of TBI

There is no known treatment to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma, but a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion can be treated with prompt medical attention and rest. For moderate to severe cases, x-rays of the skull and neck or CT scans are required to determine treatment options. It is important that individuals who suffer a TBI do not return to work or physical activity until cleared by their physician.