After a car crash or sports injury, you might feel the need to shrug off the pain. Unfortunately, waiting too long to receive treatment could turn a minor knock to the head into a severe brain injury.
In fact, there are about 1.7 million cases of traumatic brain injuries each year. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) account for 235,000 hospitalizations annually, with 80,000 to 90,000 people experiencing long-term or lifelong disabilities.
Don’t wait to seek treatment. Instead, keep an eye out for these seven traumatic brain injury characteristics. By learning the long-term effects of TBI, you can get the help you need before your symptoms get worse.
Keep reading to learn more about the key characteristics associated with TBI.
1. Mild Symptoms
Your symptoms can differ depending on whether your case is mild, moderate, or severe.
Here are a few traumatic brain injury characteristics that are common with mild injuries. First, you’ll likely notice physical symptoms such as dizziness or loss of balance. You might start experiencing headaches, too.
Other common physical symptoms include:
- Issues speaking
- Sleeping more than usual
Make a note if you lose consciousness. If you do, make sure to visit a doctor right away.
In some cases, you might not lose consciousness, though you might feel dazed and disoriented.
The short-term effects of TBI can impact your senses, too. For example, you might hear a ringing in your ears. Blurred vision and sensitivity to light or sound are common as well.
Some people notice a bad taste.
Mild cases of TBI can also affect your mental and cognitive abilities. For example, you might experience difficulty concentrating or memory issues. Mood swings and depression symptoms are common, too.
2. Moderate to Severe Injuries
You might experience the mild symptoms of TBI within a day of sustaining a head injury. However, in moderate to severe cases, you’ll experience the symptoms mentioned above as well as:
- Dilation of the pupils
- Clear fluids running from your ears or nose
- Loss of coordination
- Fingers and toes numbness
You might vomit numerous times or feel like your initial headaches are getting persistently worse. Let a doctor know if you lose consciousness. You might remain unconscious for a few minutes or even several hours.
In severe cases, you might not wake from sleep. Share these traumatic brain injury characteristics with a family member in case you fall into a coma. That way, they can get you help as soon as possible.
In the case of a moderate or severe brain injury, you might also experience slurred speech and intense confusion. Unusual behavior such as agitation is common, too.
3. Behavioral Changes
A traumatic brain injury could also cause slight alterations to your personality. The long-term effects of TBI depend on where your brain injury occurred.
For example, let’s say you sustained an injury to the brain’s frontal lobe. An impact in this region could encourage you to take risks. You might find it’s more challenging to inhibit behaviors you used to.
In addition to losing self-control, you might find you’ve become less affectionate. The hobbies you used to enjoy might no longer interest you. The long-term effects of TBI can also leave you unaware of your own abilities.
Some people have more difficulty in social environments, which others become prone to verbal outbursts.
Your brain is delicate. Any damage to your brain can alter your usual behaviors. If your personality changes, it could indicate your injury is more severe than you initially thought.
If you begin noticing changes in your personality, you might want to schedule an appointment with a brain specialist.
4. Mood Swings
You might sustain an injury to the part of the brain that controls your emotions. Even if there’s no trigger, you might exhibit a sudden emotional response or mood swing.
For example, you might get angry quickly, then suddenly get over it. You could also switch from laughing to suddenly crying over nothing.
If you find yourself on an emotional rollercoaster, make sure to speak with a doctor.
5. Intellectual Issues
The long-term effects of traumatic brain injury could change your cognitive abilities.
For starters, you’ll find it’s more difficult to concentrate. You might struggle to process your thoughts as well.
Some people experience problems with learning, reasoning, and judgment, too.
A brain injury could impact your executive functioning abilities. For example, you could experience:
- Difficulty making decisions or solving problems
- Issues making plans
- Complications beginning and completing tasks
- Trouble planning and multitasking
- Difficulty getting and staying organized
If you begin to notice intellectual issues, pay attention to any pain symptoms as well. For example, you might feel numbness around your head, along with headaches. These combined symptoms could mean you’ve experienced damage to your brainstem or nerve damage.
Let your doctor know if these symptoms sound familiar.
6. Communication Problems
A traumatic brain injury could make it difficult for you to communicate. Trouble processing language could lead to misunderstandings and frustrations.
For example, you might have a difficult time processing writing or speech. Meanwhile, you’ll struggle to write and speak yourself. If you have trouble participating in conversations, let your doctor know.
Your problems communicating could lead to social issues as well.
For example, you might struggle to express your emotions. Meanwhile, it could become more difficult to read nonverbal signals and unspoken social cues. Some people also experience dysarthria, or an inability to use muscles when forming words.
In these cases, you might benefit from online speech therapy following your traumatic brain injury.
About 56,800 people die as the result of a traumatic brain injury each year. If you notice these effects of TBI, make sure to speak with a doctor as soon as possible. Otherwise, you might begin experiencing complications.
Potential complications include:
- Blood vessel damage (which could lead to stroke or blood clots)
- Infections in the protective tissue surrounding the brain (which could infect the nervous system)
- Fluid buildup in your brain
Without proper treatment, you might experience brain death. This occurs when there’s no activity in your brain or brainstem. This state is irreversible.
Mind TBI: Keep an Eye Out for These 7 Traumatic Brain Injury Characteristics
Do these traumatic brain injury characteristics sound familiar? Make sure to speak with your doctor. They can ensure you receive treatment before your TBI becomes more severe.
Want to discuss speech therapy for your TBI? Schedule an introductory call with our team today.