What is a Brain Injury?
When you’re first told that you, or a loved one has sustained a brain injury, you may have problems understanding what it means. We all understand what it means to break an ankle, fracture a rib, or dislocate a shoulder. But what does brain injury mean? After all, the brain is not visible like other body parts, and the function of the brain is a mystery to most. Even the smartest scientists and neurologists are still unlocking the mystery of the brain. This makes it even more difficult to appreciate and understand exactly a brain injury is, and how it will impact the accident victim.
Simply stated, a brain injury is any injury to the head or brain. It can be small (Mild) or it can serious (Traumatic). It can also be somewhere in between (Moderate).
You will often hear the term TBI thrown around by neurologists, neuropsychologists, nurses, social workers and other doctors and health care professionals. TBI refers to “Traumatic Brain Injury”. It’s called “Traumatic” because that refers to the traumatic or physical forces which have caused injury to the brain.
It’s possible to have a “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury” or a “Severe Traumatic Brain Injury”. At the end of the day, think of all Brain Injury as Traumatic, regardless of the severity of the impact. Doctors insert the term Mild, Moderate or Severe in front of TBI so they have a better understanding of the degree of the injury.
To determine whether or not somebody has sustained a brain injury, doctors rely on clinical evidence (like scans, MRIs, tests, or other observations) to determine if the brain has in fact been injured or is not working properly. There may be a period of loss of consciousness, weakness in a part of the body, amnesia, dizziness, blurred vision or slurred speech. All of these functions go through the brain. This means that the brain was not (or still isn’t) working properly. All of these symptoms are indicative to brain injury.
Sometimes testing shows blood spots on the brain (hematoma). Sometimes doctors tell you that you’ve sustained a bump on the head resulting in a concussion. Other times the nature of the brain injury is more severe (anoxic brain injury when not enough blood gets to the brain). Regardless of the severity of the injury, all of the above are classified as brain injuries and should not be taken lightly.