What is Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. It can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain. A person with a mild traumatic brain injury may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes.
Other symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury include headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, fatigue or lethargy, a change in sleep patterns, behavioural or mood changes, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking.
A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms but may also have 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. Every year, 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries occur in the U.S.
What are the Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injury symptoms vary depending on the extent of the injury and the area of the brain affected. Some symptoms appear immediately, others may appear several days or even weeks later. A person with traumatic brain injury may or may not lose consciousness—loss of consciousness is not always a sign of severe traumatic brain injury.
Symptoms of traumatic brain injury may include:
- Headache that gets worse or won’t go away
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Slurred speech
- Convulsions or seizures
- An inability to wake up from sleep
- Enlargement of the pupil (dark center) of one or both eyes
- Numbness or tingling of arms or legs
- Loss of coordination
- Increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
- Loss of consciousness lasting a few minutes to hours
How is Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?
To diagnose traumatic brain injury, healthcare providers may use one or more tests that assess a person’s physical injuries, brain and nerve functioning, and level of consciousness. Some of these tests are described below.
- Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS)
- Measurements for the level of TBI
- Speech and language tests
- Cognition and neuropsychological tests
- Imaging tests
How is a Traumatic Brain Injury Treated?
Anyone with signs of moderate or severe traumatic brain injury should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Because little can be done to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma, medical personnel try to stabilize an individual with traumatic brain injury and focus on preventing further injury. Primary concerns include ensuring proper oxygen supply to the brain and the rest of the body, maintaining adequate blood flow, and controlling blood pressure. Imaging tests help in determining the diagnosis and prognosis of a traumatic brain injury patient.
Patients with mild to moderate injuries may receive skull and neck X-rays to check for bone fractures or spinal instability. The imaging test for moderate to severe cases is a computed tomography (CT) scan. Moderately severely injured patients receive rehabilitation that involves individually tailored treatment programs in the areas of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, physiatry (physical medicine), psychology/psychiatry, and social support.
The prognosis for Traumatic Brain Injury
Approximately half of severe traumatic brain injury patients will need surgery to remove or repair hematomas (ruptured blood vessels) or contusions (bruised brain tissue). Disabilities resulting from a traumatic brain injury depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the individual. Some common disabilities include problems with cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning), sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication (expression and understanding), and behaviour or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness).
More serious head injuries may result in stupor, an unresponsive state, but one in which an individual can be aroused briefly by a strong stimulus, such as sharp pain; coma, a state in which an individual is totally unconscious, unresponsive, unaware, and un-arousable; vegetative state, in which an individual is unconscious and unaware of his or her surroundings, but continues to have a sleep-wake cycle and periods of alertness; a persistent vegetative state, in which an individual stays in a vegetative state for more than a month. Life expectancy cannot be generalized, as it’s based on such factors as age, sex, and the severity of the disability.
Mobility for Those with Traumatic Brain Injury
Many with traumatic brain injury experience the loss of the ability to walk and position themselves, necessitating the use of a specialized power wheelchair. Power Chairs incorporate power-adjustable seating for user repositioning and comfort, speciality drive controls, including those requiring minimal hand strength, and a highly-adaptable design to meet an individual’s current and future needs.
Power Chairs feature the latest advanced technologies to increase the independence of those living with traumatic brain injury. iLevel seat elevation technology allows users to operate the power chair at a seated or standing height. Bluetooth features are also integrated into Quantum’s Q-Logic 3 controllers’ electronics, so those with traumatic brain injury can operate much of their environment with the power chair drive control itself. Quantum Power Chairs are designed to provide optimal medical comfort and maximum independence for those with traumatic brain injury.
The Quantum Edge 3 with industry-first 4.5 mph at iLevel, offers the most advanced power chair experience ever. Q6 Power Chair Series, which includes the Edge 3 and Q6 Edge 2.0 power chairs, provide highly adjustable mid-wheel drive power bases. The Q6 Edge 2.0 all accept our optional iLevel technology, which offers up to 12 inches of lift at 4.5 mph.
The 4Front is a quiet, more responsive front-wheel drive power chair that features automotive-grade suspension with unprecedented comfort and rides quality. All Quantum products can help to give the user a level of independence and social interaction that would otherwise be unavailable in a standard motorised or manual wheelchair.