How Are Traumatic Brain Injuries Treated?
The brain is one of the most complex and significant organs in the human body, and it’s also one of the most delicate. Encased by the skull and other protective layers, the brain can nevertheless be injured quite easily in various situations, from motor vehicle accidents to contact sport collisions, and a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be one of the most devastating to deal with, both for the patient and for their loved ones.
TBIs occur when some form of blow, bump, or impact to the head leads to a disruption in brain function. Someone in the U.S. suffers a brain injury every 9 seconds, and the symptoms and severity of these injuries can vary wildly from case to case, with some patients experiencing dizziness and disorientation, while others have headaches, loss of memory, seizures, depression, and mood swings.
Fortunately, there are ways to treat TBIs, and the exact manner and method of treatment will also vary from case to case, depending on the symptoms being experienced and the scale of the injury. In some cases, only mild forms of treatment may be needed, but in others, urgent intervention is required. See below for information on therapies, medications, and treatment options for TBI.
Certain medications can be used to help patients who have suffered a TBI. These medications won’t necessarily repair any damage done to the brain or heal the TBI directly, but they can relieve some of the symptoms induced by the injury.
For example, those dealing with regular headaches after a TBI may be prescribed pain killers, while those at risk of further brain damage may be prescribed anticoagulants to prevent any blood clots occurring.
Muscle relaxants can also be prescribed for people suffering from spasms or seizures, while stimulants are an option for those who feel lethargic or lacking in concentration after a TBI in order to boost their alertness.
Meanwhile, those dealing with mental health issues in connection with a TBI, such as anxiety or depression, maybe prescribed anti-anxiety or antidepressant pills.
Therapy is another option for TBI patients, and most people who suffer a TBI, whether it’s mild or severe, will be likely to undergo some form of rehabilitation therapy as part of their treatment plan. This can take various forms, depending on the severity of the injury and the resulting symptoms.
Often, therapy will start in the hospital and then continue elsewhere at clinics or even at home. Some patients may require only short spells of therapy to address their physical, mental, or cognitive needs, while others may require some form of therapy for the rest of their lives.
Forms of therapy used to treat TBI patients may include physical therapy, which helps to improve coordination and flexibility in the limbs and muscles, or occupational therapy, which can help patients re-learn how to perform various tasks like cooking meals or being able to bathe themselves.
Some patients may require cognitive therapy to improve cognitive functions and help restore their memory or learning abilities, while others may require speech therapy if they find themselves slurring words or developing speech impediments in the wake of a TBI. Then, there are patients dealing with depression, anxiety, or other issues that may require counseling.
Mild TBI Treatments
In some cases, a TBI can be classified as relatively mild and may not require any special treatment or medication. This may occur if someone suffers a minor injury in a car accident or has a concussion on the sports field, for example.
Often, medical practitioners will simply prescribe rest and relaxation for these patients, but they may impart other advice and instructions too, which are essential for patients to follow, as the recovery process can take much longer if patients simply get back to work or ignore their doctor’s recommendations.
Frequently, doctors may suggest that the patient refrains from activities that might exercise their cognitive functions too heavily, such as working, using computers or other devices, or concentrating too intensely on something.
Similarly, doctors will also suggest that the patient refrains from any activity that could result in an additional blow or bump to the head, such as contact sports, outdoor pursuits, or intense physical exercises. If you injure yourself again while recovering from a TBI, the symptoms may worsen and the risks of more severe symptoms could rise.
Urgent TBI Treatments
In more severe TBI cases, the most important treatment has to happen in the immediate aftermath of the incident that causes the injury, as this is what will help to keep the patient alive and reduce the risks of more serious symptoms and issues later on. The longer the brain is left untreated, the worse the eventual symptoms can become, and the higher the risk of death.
In emergency cases, patients will need to be stabilized and sufficient oxygen needs to be flowing to the brain. Blood pressure will also need to be checked and controlled, and the patient will need to be carefully transported to the hospital so as to reduce the risk of any further impacts or injures around the head and neck area.
Surgery may also be required to treat a TBI and minimize the risks of additional damage. This may include the repairing of fractures to the skull or removal of items that may have penetrated the head, as well as the possibility of making a hole in the skull to relieve pressure on the brain. It may also be required to treat hematomas, or bleeding in the brain, that could be exerting excess pressure on the brain tissue.
Once this urgent treatment has been carried out and the patient has entered a stable condition, subsequent treatment options can be explored such as medications and therapy.
It’s no surprise that brain injuries can be among the most dangerous and damaging of all, but modern medicine has developed a range of methods and medications to help reduce the risks of deaths and even deal with the most severe of symptoms, with constant research underway to explore even more possible treatment options that could change the lives of future TBI patients too.