Traumatic Brain Injuries

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue.

Signs & Symptoms of TBI

The symptoms of TBI can range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain. Mild cases may result in temporary confusion or a headache, while severe cases may show extended periods of unconsciousness, coma or sometimes death.

At SSM Health Neurosciences we recommend that people should always be seen by a doctor after a blow to the head. Seek emergency help in cases of more severe symptoms, such as convulsions, weakness or numbness, repeated vomiting or slurred speech. The consequences of a brain injury can worsen swiftly without treatment, so seeking immediate care allows us to assess the situation rapidly.

Treating TBI

Emergency care focuses on preventing a brain injury from worsening. Medical and surgical advances have improved outcomes for cases of TBI. With the help of medications, like diuretics, we can reduce the amount of fluid in tissues, lessening the impact of swelling.

Surgical Options for TBI

The goal of all surgical treatments is to prevent secondary injury by helping to maintain blood flow and oxygen to the brain and minimizing swelling and pressure. Surgical options for treating TBI include:

  • Removing clotted blood: reduces pressure inside the skull, helping to prevent additional brain damage; bleeding vessels or tissues may need to be repaired
  • Repairing skull fractures: used when a portion of the skull is pressing into the brain; additional damaged tissue may need to be removed
  • Creating a window in the skull: if pressure inside the skull will not subside, surgeons may opt to create an opening in the skull and leave it open until the swelling subsides

Patients recovering from traumatic brain injury at SSM Health Neurosciences are admitted to a specialized Neuro Intensive Care Unit or step-down unit designed exclusively for the care of our neurological patients. Together, we work with rehabilitation services to create post-hospital care plans for you or your loved one.

Seek immediate medical attention if you or a loved one has experienced any injury to the head. You can be assured that the expert team at SSM Health Neurosciences will use the most advanced techniques to help you overcome your injury and to ensure the best possible outcomes.

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