Brain Injury

Brain Injury

Brain Injury

Table of Contents

Functions of the Brain

To understand brain injury types, it is first important to look at the different functions of the brain. The brain is an amazing organ. It is the part of the body responsible for virtually all functions throughout the body. The brain weighs about three pounds and is divided into two hemispheres or halves. Each half or side contains four separate lobes1. 

 

The frontal lobe behind the forehead is where cognitive functions and control of voluntary body movements occur. The parietal lobe processes information sent from other parts of the body about temperature, touch, taste, and movement. The occipital lobe is primarily responsible for the vision and functions of the eye. Finally, the temporal lobe processes memories. It takes memories and integrates them with senses such as taste, sight, sound, and touch.  

Brain Injury Types

The term “brain injury” describes many types of injury to the brain. There are several types of traumatic brain injuries, and each can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe.  

 

Mild Brain Injury

A mild traumatic brain injury  is generally characterized by loss of consciousness for a short time, often seconds or minutes. A mild traumatic brain injury may present in medical tests as a lack of any notable injury to the brain, although this aspect may be inaccurate. It is essential to look at mental functioning and overall brain health when diagnosing a mild concussion or traumatic brain injury.  

Moderate Brain Injury

A moderate traumatic brain injury is characterized by a loss of consciousness that may last for a few hours and confusion that can persist for weeks. A moderate traumatic brain injury can produce lasting complications, which may resolve in a matter of months or be lifelong.  

 

Severe Brain Injury

Severe traumatic brain injuries result from crushing blows to the head or penetrating injuries to the skull or brain. A severe injury is life-threatening and often leads to long-term challenges or disability. Severe injuries can be classified as open or closed; however, the most common severe injury results from an open head injury with significant skull damage.  

Severe Brain Injury

Severe traumatic brain injuries result from crushing blows to the head or penetrating injuries to the skull or brain. A severe injury is life-threatening and often leads to long-term challenges or disability. Severe injuries can be classified as open or closed; however, the most common severe injury results from an open head injury with significant skull damage.  

Acquired Brain Injury

Acquired brain injury is often referred to as a non-traumatic brain injury. These brain injuries lead to damage to the brain, not from external factors but internal ones. Examples of internal factors that could lead to acquired brain injury include lack of oxygen, toxins, stroke, tumors, aneurysm, and infectious disease affecting the brain.  

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury or TBI is characterized by an alteration in brain function caused by an external force. Traumatic brain injuries can be classified as closed (nonpenetrating) or open (penetrating). Common causes of traumatic brain injuries are falls, assaults, motor vehicle accidents, and sports injuries. 

The Sides of the Brain

The brain allows you to function and accomplish various tasks every day. Ranging from simple to complex, many of these tasks are essential to life function. As previously mentioned, the brain is divided into two sides called hemispheres. Each side controls various functions in the body 2 

Left-Sided Traits

The left side3 of the brain is believed to control actions on the right side of the body. It is primarily concerned with language, reasoning, number and scientific skills, and right-hand control. It is in the left side of the brain where words and sentence structure are created.  

 

When someone experiences injury to the left side of the brain, they may experience conditions such as aphasia (difficulty comprehending or expressing language) and problems with computation skills, analytical skills, and logic.  

Right Side Traits

The right side4 of the brain controls actions on the left side of the body. The right side of the brain is responsible for visual awareness, emotions, spatial reasoning, face recognition, imagination, music awareness, interpreting social cues, and left-hand control. It also performs some basic math tasks and plays a small role in language.     When someone experiences a right-sided brain injury, they will have difficulties with attention, memory, perception, and loss of mobility and function on the left side of the body.  

Brain Injury Terms

To better understand how brain injury impacts brain and body function, it is helpful to understand some of the most common terms used when discussing injuries to the brain.

  • Diffuse Axonal Injury– a shearing injury of the large nerve fibers in many areas of the brain.  
  • Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)-an injury to the brain caused by a hard blow or violent shaking leading to sudden yet temporary impairment of brain function.  
  • Contusion-a distinct area of swollen brain tissue mixed with blood from broken blood vessels. 
  • Coup-Contrecoup Injury-a contusion (bruise) caused by shaking the brain back and forth, leading to bruising of the brain tissue on the side opposite where the blow was struck.  
  • Second Impact Syndrome– an injury that results when the brain swells rapidly after receiving a second concussion before the symptoms of the earlier one have subsided.  
  • Penetrating Injury-a brain injury type where an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue.  
  • Abusive Head Trauma (Shaken Baby Syndrome)– a severe form of head trauma resulting when an infant or small child is shaken forcibly enough to cause the brain to bounce against the skull.  
  • Locked-in Syndrome– A condition in which a patient is awake and aware but cannot move or communicate due to complete paralysis of the body.  
  • Open Head Injury-an open head injury involves an open wound to the head. Sometimes referred to as a penetrating head injury.  
  • Closed Head Injury– brain damage resulting from indirect impact. They are also referred to as nonpenetrating injuries.  

Complications After Brain Injury

After a brain injury, complications vary from person to person based on their injury. Some difficulties may resolve in a matter of hours, whereas others may persist for many years.   

  • Altered consciousness-altered states of consciousness can include coma, vegetative states, minimally conscious state, and brain death.  
  • Physical complications-Physical complications resulting from a TBI include seizures, blood vessel damage, headaches, vertigo, and fluid buildup in the brain.  
  • Intellectual problems– intellectual difficulties may include cognitive challenges and problems with executive functioning. 
  • Communication problems-communication problems are common after a TBI. Common communication challenges may include difficulties speaking, writing, understanding, and organizing thoughts.  
  • Behavioral changes-someone who has experienced a TBI may exhibit challenges with self-control, engage in risky behavior, verbal or physical outbursts, and lack of awareness of abilities.  
  • Emotional changes-emotional difficulties after a brain injury often include mood swings, irritability, anger, sleeping challenges, depression, and anxiety.  
  • Sensory problems– problems involving the senses are also common. Some of the most frequently reported include persistent ringing in the ears, blind spots, double vision, skin tingling, impaired hand-eye coordination, and trouble with balance.

Can Brain Injury Cause Degenerative Brain Diseases?

Some indications point to a correlation between traumatic brain injury types and degenerative brain disease. It is important to note that research into this correlation is in its early stages and, at this time, has not confirmed a direct link between TBI and degenerative brain diseases 5 

Symptoms of Brain Injury in Children

Unlike adults, infants and young children may not be able to communicate headaches, confusion, sensory difficulties, or other symptoms related to brain injury.  

 

When a child experiences a brain injury, they may present with symptoms including: 

 

  • Seizures 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Changes in sleeping patterns 
  • Change in their attentiveness 
  • Irritability 
  • Eating pattern change 
  • Persistent crying 
  • A loss of interest in favorite activities and toys 

Preventing Brain Injury

The best way to prevent brain injury is to reduce exposure to potential injury-causing mechanisms. When you are in a vehicle, wear your seatbelt and ensure that your airbags are correctly functioning.  

 

For children, they must always be secured in the backseat of the car in a safety seat or booster seat appropriate for their height and weight. When riding a bicycle, motorcycle, or participating in baseball or other contact sports, be sure to wear a helmet. Pay attention to your surroundings to prevent falls and accidents.  

How Can Brain Mapping Help in Diagnosing Brain Injury?

Brain mapping can provide a visual representation of how and where damage is within the brain. It is essential to understand how the injury impacted the brain and function before attempting to treat injury or damage.  Using qEEG brain mapping, it is possible to see the specific areas of the brain that have been damaged.  

 

In addition, neurofeedback is a research-proven way to help improve brain function after a brain injury6. Once the specific area of damage is located using brain mapping, it is possible to target the area and retrain the brain through neurofeedback therapy.