The most common form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a concussion, or a mild TBI. TBI results from either a direct blow to the head or from indirect force of sudden acceleration /deceleration (like whiplash). There must also be some indication of altered senses such as confusion, loss of memory of the event, appearing dazed or stunned, or being quite forgetful of basic information. Importantly, mild TBI often occurs without loss of consciousness. Mild TBI refers to injuries in which loss of consciousness is less than 30 minutes or loss of memory for the event is less than 24 hours.
In the majority of mild TBI cases, symptoms typically resolve in two to three weeks. However in some cases of mild TBI, as with the majority of moderate TBI, symptoms can last longer and interfere in daily functioning in subtle ways.
This can include physical symptoms:
- Altered balance
- Frequent fatigue
- Visual disturbance
- Sleep disturbance
- Poor memory
- Poor concentration
- “Slowed” thinking
There may also be emotional and personality changes:
- Impulsive behavior
- Becoming more withdrawn
In children there may be a decline in grades or behavioral disturbance. In adults there may be a decline in work performance or ability to keep up with household needs.
If you or a loved one has an injury to the head with these symptoms, please contact your local emergency room or urgent care center immediately. The key to recovery from TBI is rest, limiting demanding activities, avoiding alcohol, and avoiding activities that could lead to another blow to the head.
For individuals who continue to experience these symptoms beyond one to two weeks, Gundersen offers the Traumatic Brain Injury Team. The team helps coordinate appropriate specialists from:
- Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
- Social Services
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech Language Pathology
- And any other services the individual may need
They evaluate each individual and determine the best plan of care. The team talks with the individual, as well as family members and loved ones, about the physical and emotional effects that a TBI has on everyone involved. They provide information and put people in touch with local resources and a variety of services.