What is a brain injury? The basics

So what does it mean when someone is brain damaged?

The Body Is Made Up Of Building Blocks Called Cells

The body is made up of cells. Cells gather together to form organs, like the brain. Brain damage or injury occurs when there is damage to cells that make up the brain.

Brain Damage Is Damage To The Cells That Make Up The Brain

So you want more detail about what exactly is brain damage or brain injury? Well I must caution you that the answer is confusing. If you are still reading lets start with the two most common categories of brain injury.

Traumatic Brain Injury vs. Acquired Brain Injury

The first category of brain injury is called traumatic brain injury (TBI). This type of injury usually follows a hit on the head from an outside source. The second general category of brain injury is called acquired brain injury (ABI). Technically speaking traumatic brain injury is a type of acquired brain injury, however in the confusing would of brain injury medicine these terms are used to describe different conditions.

What’s The Difference?

So what is the difference between traumatic brain injury and acquired brain injury? By definition any traumatic brain injury (i.e. from a motor vehicle accident, or assault) could be considered an acquired brain injury. However, in the field of brain injury medicine, acquired brain injuries are typically considered any injury that is non traumatic.

Technically Speaking…….zzzzzzzzzz

The textbook definition of an Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain, which is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that occurred after birth. Examples of acquired brain injury include vaccine related encephalopathy, stroke, near drowning, and tumors.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI 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 TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain.

Symptoms of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Loss of Consciousness (not always) Headache
Confusion Lightheadedness, Dizziness, Blurred Vision
Fatigue Behavioral or Mood Changes
Trouble with Memory, Concentration, Attention, or Thinking.

Symptoms of Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

All of the symptoms above plus:

Vomiting or Nausea Convulsions or Seizures
Slurred Speech Agitation

Brain injuries often create impairment or disability which can vary greatly in severity. It does not necessarily result in long-term impairment or disability, although the location and extent of damage both have a significant effect on the likely outcome. In cases of serious brain injuries, the likelihood of areas with permanent disability is great, including neurocognitive deficits, delusions (often specifically monothematic delusions), speech or movement problems, and mental handicap. There will also be personality changes. The most severe cases result in coma or even persistent vegetative state. Even a mild incident can have long term effects or cause symptoms to appear years later.

The extent and effect of brain injury is often assessed by the use of neurological examination, neuroimaging, and neuropsychological assessment.

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