Traumatic Brain Injury | Overview

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What is a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur when there is a severe, violent strike to the head that causes the brain to bump against the inside of the skull. It can also occur when an object, such as a bullet or a piece of the skull, penetrates the brain.

Are traumatic brain injuries serious?

They can be. These types of injuries can cause bleeding or swelling of the brain, as well as damage to the nerve cells. This disrupts the way the brain sends messages out to the rest of the body. Traumatic brain injuries can affect behavior, speech, sensation and movement. However, many people recover from these types of injuries and have no lasting effects.

Types of head injuries

  • A concussion is a jarring injury to the brain. Most of the time it doesn't involve a loss of consciousness. A person who has a concussion may feel dazed and may lose vision or balance for a while after the injury
  • A brain contusion is a bruise of the brain. This means there is some bleeding in the brain, causing swelling.
  • A skull fracture is when the skull cracks. Sometimes the edges of broken skull bones cut into the brain and cause bleeding or other injury.
  • An intracranial hematoma is bleeding anywhere inside the skull that collects and clots. A mass of clotted blood forms within brain tissue, or more often in between the brain and the skull. An intracranial hematoma may not be apparent for a day or even as long as several weeks. It's important to tell your doctor if someone with a head injury feels or acts strangely. Watch out for headaches, listlessness, balance problems or throwing up.
  • A scalp or facial hematoma is bleeding outside the skull that collects and clots, often forming a firm lump on the scalp or forehead. A black eye is another type of hematoma that forms when there is bleeding under the skin around the eye. While these hematomas can look bad, they usually heal without any permanent damage.

 

Funding and support for this material have been provided by Allergan.

Bibliography

See a list of resources used in the development of this information.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Created: 08/10

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