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Treatment and prognosis for traumatic brain injuries

Head injuries can result from sports contact, falls, motor vehicle accidents, and other various incidents. Unfortunately, head trauma that results in a traumatic brain injury can have serious effects and implications on a person's life as many symptoms are quite disruptive of normal functioning and can be long-term or even permanent.

It is important to receive treatment for a head or brain injury as quickly as possible after the injury is suffered in order to minimize potential damage. Although it is generally impossible to reverse brain damage that has already been suffered as a result of the injury, there are various things that can be done to prevent continuing or worsening damage. Initial medical treatment often consists of stabilizing the injured person to prevent further injury and ensuring that the brain and body receive an adequate supply of oxygen. Doctors and nurses will also focus on ensuring proper blood flow and maintaining healthy blood pressure.

After a patient is stabilized, imaging tests may be performed to determine the extent of the injury and find out whether surgery or medical treatment for broken bones is needed. After the initial treatment stage, ongoing rehabilitation may be recommended in order to help patients regain optimal functioning in the areas of speech, physical movement, occupational skills, psychology, etc., if needed.

Generally, the prognosis of a traumatic head injury relates to the severity of the injury and how quickly medical treatment was provided. The most serious cases may result in a coma, a lengthy vegetative state, or even death. Disabilities of some level are common after head injuries and can include problems with sensory processing, difficulty in communication, reduced levels of cognition (memory, reasoning and thinking), and negative effects on behavioral or mental health (depression, anxiety, aggression, changes to personality, etc.), among others.

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "NINDS Traumatic Brain Injury Information Page," accessed on Oct. 5, 2014

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