As per CDC statistics, there are approximately 1.7 million TBI (traumatic brain injuries) in the United States annually. These injuries vary in form and severity. Some people that suffer from TBI show short-term effects, while others exhibit effects that are more long-term.
Types of TBI
Generally speaking, these three types of head injuries may lead to TBI:
- Closed Head Injuries– These are, by far, the most common type of TBI. There are no open/visible wounds, and they are caused by the head moving too very fast in more than one direction. This rapid action causes the brain to twist and collide, which can result in damage to the nerve fibers and internal bleeding.
- Open Wound Injuries- These are also referred to as penetrating brain injuries. Most people that suffer these injuries have open wounds which can expose the brain’s tissues to external conditions through breaks in the skull. They also look more graphic externally, compared to closed head injuries. However, if the damage is restricted to one spot, the prognosis can sometimes be better.
- Crushing Injuries- These injuries occur when the brain gets compressed between two objects. Crushing injuries can cause severe trauma to the neck, the brain, and the base of the skull. Skull fractures and severe bleeding are some of the common short-term effects.
The Long-Term Effects of TBI
It’s essential to understand that each of these types of head injuries can cause severe, long-lasting effects. However, every severe head injury case is different in some way. The severity and nature of the long-term effects of TBI depend on factors such as:
- The direction of force
- Location of the impact
- The force applied to the head
The individual’s health and timing and/or quality of the treatment are the other factors that play a role in the odds of recovery. Since there are so many variables, it isn’t easy to be sure what long-term effect the person may experience or how long it will last. Sometimes, medical professionals have to conduct analysis that stretches over many months. They use their findings to establish the full extent of the person’s injuries, their likelihood of recovery, and what the overall long-term effects could be.
Long-Term Effects of TBI
Since every case is different, the specific effects might vary. However, some long-term effects of TBI include:
- Memory loss
- Loss of balance
- Impaired language skills
- Partial paralysis
- Increased risk of seizure/stroke
- Mood swings
- Loss of consciousness/coma
- Loss of sensation in the extremities (toes, fingers, etc.)
- Impaired cognitive function
- Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other degenerative conditions
This isn’t a comprehensive list, and it covers only a small percentage of the long-term effects a person with TBI can suffer.
Some Long-Term Effects of TBI May Increase In Severity
In some cases, the long-term effects that are caused by a head injury may worsen over time. Medical conditions, complications from interactions with some new injuries or the slow degradation of the brain cells over time are some of the probable causes.
For example, an individual with TBI may experience a seizure later on, which, in turn, can cause further damage to their brain. A future blow to the head could be the cause of an open head wound that gives easy entry to bacteria. If these bacteria infiltrate the meninges (protective tissues surrounding the brain), that can lead to further complications.
Since there can be many severe long-term repercussions to a head injury, the patient, as well as their loved ones, need to remain very vigilant. The injured person also needs to undergo regular medical examinations from a TBI rehabilitation specialist to make sure there are no complications.