According to the Mayo Clinic, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) “results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body”. A TBI can also be caused by “an object that goes through brain tissue, such as a bullet or shattered piece of skull. Brain injuries may be caused by falls, vehicle-related collisions, violence, sports injuries, explosive blasts, penetrating wounds, or combat injuries. The degree of damage to the brain may depend on several factors, including the nature of the injury and the force of impact. A TBI can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. A mild TBI may affect a person’s brain cells temporarily, while more serious TBIs may result in bruising, torn tissues, and other physical damage to the brain. They may result in long-term complications or death.
The physical and psychological effects of a TBI are wide-ranging. While some signs or symptoms may appear immediately after the event, others may appear days or even weeks later. The signs and symptoms of a mild TBI (also known as a concussion) may include headaches, nausea, blurred vision, sensitivity to light or sound, loss of consciousness or a state of being dazed or disoriented, mood swings, depression and anxiety, and sleep issues. The signs and symptoms of moderate to severe TBIs may include those of a mild TBI and may include coma and other disorders of consciousness, convulsions or seizures, clear fluids draining from the nose or ears, slurred speech, agitation, headaches, sensory problems, and other similar symptoms. Infants and young children with an TBI may not be able to communicate their symptoms. Caregivers of children with a TBI may observe a change in eating or nursing habits, unusual irritability, seizures, persistent crying, or a change in sleep habits, among other symptoms.
Research and Resources
Currently, NIDILRR funds over 30 projects whose research and development activities are geared toward improving various aspects of the lives of people with TBI, including interventions, employment, community participation, health, and function. These projects include the TBI Model Systems and the Model System Knowledge Translation Center (MSKTC), which houses evidence-based resources in English and Spanish for consumers with TBI, their families, and service providers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides information about TBI, including data and statistics, healthcare provider resources, publications, publications and reports, and more. The CDC also provides the CDC Heads Up initiative, which provides information for parents, coaches, school professionals, and healthcare providers on topics TBI and concussion prevention in sports and other TBI risks in children and adolescents.
Interested in research on TBI? NARIC’s information specialists searched REHABDATA and found over 1100 articles related to TBI research from the NIDILRR community and beyond. NARIC’s Research In Focus series discusses the latest results from NIDILRR-funded studies on TBI and disability-related topics presented in an easy to read format.
If you would like to learn more about TBI or would like TBI-related resources, please contact NARIC’s information specialists.
Please Note: See your doctor immediately if you or your child receive a blow to the head or body that concerns you or causes behavioral changes. Seek emergency medical care if there are any signs or symptoms of a TBI after a recent blow or other injury to the head. Although the terms mild, moderate, and severe are used to describe the effect of the injury, a mild TBI is still a serious injury that requires immediate attention and an accurate diagnosis.