Head injury symptoms result from a wide range of traumatic physical conditions that affect the skull, brain, scalp and associated tissues and blood vessels. Some of these conditions are relatively mild and pose little or no threat to long-term health and well being, while others pose grave threats to everyday life and normal brain function. Head injuries that impact brain health are also known as traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs. The mildest form of TBI, called a concussion, occurs when a direct impact to the head or violent shaking of the head or torso jars the brain from its normal position inside your skull. Skull fractures are TBIs that damage the heavy bones that surround and protect your brain; they can trigger bleeding or laceration of brain tissue, as well as formation of areas of bruising and swelling called contusions.

Potential Symptoms

Regardless of its cause, an injury to your head can produce relatively mild or serious head injury symptoms, according to the Ohio State University Medical Center. Common symptoms of milder injuries include bumps, bruises, small scalp cuts or lacerations, confusion, headaches, irritability, nausea, blurred vision, difficulties with body balance, fatigue, light headedness, noise or light sensitivity, lack of concentration, memory disturbances, sleep disturbances, alterations in your normal sense of taste and ringing in your ears.

Common symptoms of more severe forms of head injury include deep scalp lacerations, open head wounds, the presence of foreign objects that penetrate the scalp or skull, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, seizures, severe and persistent headaches, pale skin, walking difficulties, short-term memory loss and drainage of clear fluids or blood from the mouth or nose. Additional potential symptoms of a severe head injury include weakness on one side of the body (hemiparesis), abnormal widening or dilation of the pupil in one eye and moodiness, irritability or other changes in normal behavior.

It is important to note that not all people with head injuries develop the same types of symptoms. In addition, people who experience severe head injuries may have both mild and severe injury symptoms. For these reasons, anyone who shows any symptoms in the aftermath of a head injury should see a doctor as soon as possible. People with clear severe symptoms should receive medical care immediately.

Injury Diagnosis

In some cases, the effects of brain trauma don't show up right away. For this reason, if you have a head injury, your doctor won't necessarily be able to determine the extent of the damage without gathering several key pieces of information. Typically, she will begin collecting this information with a physical examination, complete medical history and investigation of the specific circumstances in which the injury occurred. Your doctor will also probably administer a test called a Glasgow Coma Scale, which measures your ability to open your eyes, move your arms and legs, and respond to questions and verbal prompts. The maximum possible score on the test is 15. People who score between 13 and 15 usually have only mild head injuries. People who score between 9 and 12 have moderate injuries, while those who score 8 or below have severe injuries.

Additional testing procedures used in a TBI diagnosis include blood tests, X-rays, a measurement of the brain's electrical activity called an electroencephalogram (EEG), a combination of X-rays and computer imagery called a computed tomography (CT) scan, and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which uses radio frequencies, computers and specialized magnets to generate detailed pictures of the brain.

Changes in Consciousness

The presence of a brain injury can alter your normal consciousness in several different ways. Some people develop a temporary reduction of conscious responsiveness called lethargy or stupor, which can typically be overcome with some sort of strong body manipulation or stimulation. A more serious form of consciousness alteration - called a coma - stems from widespread, scattered forms of brain damage and results in loss of awareness and a lack of responsiveness to all outside stimuli. Some people in comas recover consciousness in days or weeks, while others die or enter another state of consciousness called a vegetative state.

Unlike people in comas, people in vegetative states sometimes open their eyes, experience periods of relative alertness, move their bodies and respond reflexively to outside stimulation. In many cases, vegetative individuals regain some conscious function in a number of weeks. However, in other cases, vegetative patients show no signs of change for 30 days or longer, and therefore enter another state of consciousness alteration known as a persistent vegetative state. Adults who enter this state have roughly a 50 percent chance of improving and regaining consciousness in the next six months, while children have roughly a 60 percent chance of recovering. If a persistent vegetative state lasts for more than a year, the affected individual has very little chance of regaining consciousness. Those who do regain consciousness after this amount of time typically have significant or severe disabilities and require ongoing rehabilitation in order to gain even small improvements in everyday function.

Author's Bio: 

Helping families and loved ones understand care after a brain injury and assisting the injured in rehabilitation and safety is a passion of the author , Leon Edward who has spent over three decades successfully living with effects as hemiparesis after traumatic brain injury being shot in the head and neck.

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