What are the Signs and Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Intracranial Injury?

The signs and symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury ranges from severe to minor and some show immediately while others occur after some days or weeks. The symptoms are classified according to whether they are mild or severe.

Signs & Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Intracranial Injury

Signs and Symptoms of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Intracranial Injury

Signs and symptoms of mild or minor traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury can be physical, sensorial or cognitive.

Physical signs and symptoms experienced in mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury include:

  • Headache and pains as a result of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury.
  • Complete exhaustion and sleepiness
  • Inability to sleep because of pain caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury.
  • May lose consciousness for some minutes or seconds due to traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury.
  • Sometimes, the person may not loss consciousness, but may be in a state of shock and confusion
  • Stomach queasiness and vomiting
  • Unusual and constant sleepiness is a sign of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury.

Sensory signs and symptoms experienced in mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury include:

  • Distorted vision is a major sensory sign of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury.
  • Other sensory symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury are: the mouth tastes ugly, a roaring sound in the ear, irritable reaction to movement or light.

Cognitive signs and symptoms experienced in mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury include:

  • Inability to remember things before the accident is a major cognitive symptom of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury.
  • Other symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury include- Inability to concentrate, constant mood swings, anxiety and depressive feelings.

Signs and Symptoms of Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Intracranial Injury

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury often includes signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury and some other symptoms, which will appear later. These are classified under physical, cognitive symptoms.

Physical signs and symptoms experienced in severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury include:

  • Longer periods of loss of consciousness lasting for many hours, sometimes, days is the major symptom of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury.
  • Constant strong headache that often gets worse is another symptom of moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury
  • Inability to regain consciousness
  • Deadness of the toes and fingers
  • Other signs and symptoms of moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury includes: constant seizures, severe loss of coordination of the senses, dilating of the pupils, constant vomiting and discharge of fluids from the ears or nostrils.

Cognitive (Mental) signs and symptoms experienced in severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury include: Intense confusion, garbling speech, going into coma, a total loss of memory, aggressive behavior and anxiety.

Signs and Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Intracranial Injury in Children

Signs and symptoms of TBI may worsen in younger children, who are unable to communicate the feelings. Symptoms in children with traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury may include the following:

  • Depression
  • Crying persistently and uncontrollably
  • May sleep too much or too little
  • Loss of appetite
  • Inability to accept care
  • Irritability
  • May lose interest in favorite plays.

What Tests are conducted to Diagnose Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Intracranial Injury?

Most traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury cases require rapid response, as symptoms may deteriorate and patient may lose a lot of blood or may die if not immediately attended to. The focus is to save the life before attending to other injury.

A Glasgow Coma test will be carried out on the patient by emergency medical personnel. A 15-point test will be done to determine the extent of the traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury incurred. The emergency personnel will check the ability of the patient to move their feet and arms and to respond to certain instructions. The test will also provide information about how articulate the patient's speech is and if he/ she can open his/ her eyes. The Glasgow test will score the results obtained. For each point test, a higher score indicate that the traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury is not severe.

To determine further information about the extent of the injury, the medical personnel will observe the patient and ask questions from witnesses about the accident. Information provided will help the doctor determine the severity of the traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury.

Questions asked by the emergency care doctor for traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury will include:

  • Is the patient unconscious at the incident?
  • For how long has the patient been unconscious?
  • Which position was the person when he/she was found?
  • Which part of the body or head was hit?
  • How did the accident occur?
  • What struck the person and what was the extent of the force?

Image Testing for Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Intracranial Injury

Imaging tests like MRI and CT scan will help in diagnosing traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury. After stabilizing the patient's condition, the medical personnel will carry out an image testing to obtain evidence of the traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury in the brain. Image testing may not reveal mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury because of the nature of the symptoms. The following imaging will help show evidences of any injury.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury involves using sturdy magnetic and radio waves to supply a comprehensive picture of the brain, which will reveal any injured parts.
  • Computerized Tomography Scan or CT scan for traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injury will take different angles of pictures of the brain to provide a comprehensive view of the damages in the brain, tissues, cells, neurons and all vital parts. It will show any bleeding and blood clothing in and outside the brain.

Intracranial Pressure Monitor for Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Intracranial Injury

Intracranial pressure monitor can help in diagnosing severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) or intracranial injuries. If there any swelling of the tissues, it may pressurize the skull and cause more damages. Therefore, the doctor should monitor the pressure in the skull by implanting a probe in the skull.

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 3, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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