What is brain trauma?

Brain trauma, also called traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a damage to the brain caused by a sudden trauma to the head. TBI is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, contributing to about 30% of all injury deaths. Each year, millions of people visit an emergency department due to TBI. Concussions are milder cases of TBI. More severe TBI can cause a permanent damage to the brain or lead to death.


What causes brain trauma/TBI?

TBIs can be caused by incidents such as a blow, a jolt, or a bump to the head strong enough to disrupt the normal function of the brain. It could also be cause when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Among the top causes of TBI are falls, violence or self-harm, and motor vehicle accidents. People 75 years or older have the highest rate of TBI, likely due to more frequent falls.


Diagnosing brain trauma/TBI

Mild TBI can cause a headache or neck pain, nausea, ringing in the ears, confusion, dizziness, tiredness and blurred vision. A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. More moderate or severe TBI symptoms include all of the above and in addition a headache that gets worse or does not go away, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, an inability to awaken from sleep, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation. To diagnose TBI a healthcare provider will assess a person’s physical injuries, brain and nerve functioning, and level of consciousness. This may include imaging tests such as CT (computerized tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).


How does brain trauma/TBI relate to aphasia?

Brain trauma that is severe enough to cause a more permanent brain damage may result in aphasia if the brain tissue that gets damaged is in areas of the brain important for speech and language production. Depending on the severity of the trauma, aphasia due to TBI could be transient or more permanent. Often, aphasia caused by TBI will be accompanied by other cognitive problems since TBI usually affects multiple areas of the brain.


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