Effects of TBI

Considering the brain’s complexity, it is not always possible to determine what the effects will be for all cases and persons. However, understanding the effects of a traumatic brain injury can be possible in most cases by determining the severity of the traumatic brain injury, that is, whether the brain injury is mild, moderate or severe. This can be accomplished by conducting thorough physical and medical exams, which can range from a standard medical history, to CT or MRI scans, and a Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) test.

While symptoms and/or signs may be apparent in moderate to severe brain injury cases, that is not always the case with mild traumatic brain injuries where in some cases the injury will not show up on the tests, nor the symptoms will display for a period of time, which can lead to misdiagnosis and, as a result, to improper treatment.

The effects of a traumatic brain injury, regardless of its severity, will usually be manifested by one or several of the following symptoms1:

  • Headaches
  • Fuzzy or blurry vision
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Balance problems
  • Feeling tired, having no energy
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering new information
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • More emotional
  • Mood changes
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Sleep less than usual
  • Trouble falling Sleep

There can be other effects associated with a traumatic brain injury. However, we cannot fully understand such effects if we do not know the main parts of the brain, and their respective role in a human’s body. The brain is composed of the:

  1. Frontal lobe: This is the part of the brain that controls a person’s cognitive skills, such as emotional expressions, problem solving, memory, language, etc. This part is in charge of our personality and social behaviors. An injury to this part of the brain could lead to problems such as post-traumatic amnesia, attention and/or concentration issues, word-finding difficulty while reading, comprehension issues, trouble remembering what you are reading, planning, organizing and executive functioning issues, speech or language issues, reduced reasoning, impaired problem-solving skills, and poor insight into problems, among others.
  2. Parietal lobe: This part of the brain which is located at the center of the brain, is in charge of interpreting impulses that come from the skin, such as pain, touch, warmth, and cold, among other sensations, therefore, an injury to this part of the brain can limit such functions.
  3. Temporal lobe: This part of the brain controls the ability to interpret all of the information that we hear and smell. In addition, this part of the brain allows a person to recognize and interpret the meaning of words. Therefore, an injury to this part of the brain can cause problems such as comprehension issues, and misunderstanding what is said by others.
  4. Occipital lobe: This part of the brain is responsible for receiving input from the eye to the brain, and which is in charge of interpreting colors, and visual images. An injury to this part of the brain can lead to visual impairments and/or other vision related problems (e.g. blurry vision, double vision, light sensitivity, etc).
  5. Cerebellum: This part of the brain is responsible for controlling “movement” functions, and muscle coordination. The ability to move, walk, talk, stand up, and other physical activities is controlled by this part of the brain. It is also in charge of controlling other aspects such as balance, muscle tone, and voluntary movements. An injury to this part of the brain can limit all of these functions.

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