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What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is caused by impact to the head which in turn causes damage to the brain. TBI can happen at the time of impact or later on. The injury may be confined to one area of the brain or it can involve several areas of the brain. There are three ways the brain is injured:

  • Bruising and bleeding – the brain is thrown against the front and back of the skull which causes bruising and/or bleeding.

  • Swelling – if there is swelling in the brain pressure begins to build up and damages structures in the brain.

  • Tearing, shearing and twisting – when tearing occurs the connections between various parts can be sheared and twisted.

The most common causes of brain injury are car or bike accidents, sports, falls or assaults. Brain injuries, especially mild brain injuries, may not be evident at first. Even if a brain injury is considered “mild”, it can still have a major impact on all areas of your life.

BRAIN INJURY DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE IT CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE – ANYTIME – ANYWHERE and there are many ways you can sustain a brain injury. Each person is unique and the impact from their brain injury is also individual. 

CLOSED HEAD INJURY
A closed head injury occurs when the head is struck but the skull is not penetrated or fractured and can sometimes be referred to as a minor head injury. A closed head injury may occur if the head is moved violently or struck. Hospitalisation may not be necessary and sometimes there is no loss of consciousness. Even so, some people experience behavioural and cognitive problems, which can interfere with their lives as a result. It is important to get information to understand the possible effects this may have on you. Concussion is one example of a closed head injury.

POST CONCUSSIONAL SYNDROME
Symptoms such as headache, dizziness, deafness, ringing in the ears, memory impairment and short attention span may occur after a closed head injury. These symptoms vary from person to person but are known as ‘Post Concussional Syndrome’. Explanation and advice should be sought from your local doctor who may refer you to a neurologist

OPEN HEAD INJURY
Open head injuries occur when the skull has been broken and the brain exposed. This may damage the brain tissue immediately below the fracture causing loss of consciousness and damage to a larger area of the brain than closed head injuries.

Is A Concussion a Head Injury? 

A CONCUSSION IS A BRAIN INJURY – you do not need to lose consciousness to sustain a concussion. 

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.

Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.

Brain Injury Symptoms

The way each person experiences a brain injury is different but there are some common symptoms that are linked to most brain injuries. 

  • Fatigue

  • Depression

  • Memory loss

  • Aggression/anger

  • Social isolation

  • Loss of independence

  • Frustration Poor concentration

  • Attention difficulties

  • Disrupted sleep patterns

  • Impulsiveness

  • Mood swings

  • Anxiety

  • Communication difficulties Confusion

  • Physical/mobility problems

  • Sensory disruption

  • Learning difficulties

  • Speech difficulties

Emotional Impact of Brain INjury

Everyone who has had a brain injury can be left with some changes in emotional reaction. These are more difficult to see than the more obvious problems such as those which affect movement and speech, for example, but can be the most difficult for the individual concerned. You may experience post traumatic disorder, mood swings, depression, anxiety, anger and frustration. 
It is OK to feel these things, but you may find that talking about it helps with your family or support groups. You are not alone, and Brain Injury Waikato can help support you to find the right network for you to reduce feelings of isloation, and help cope with the emotional challenges you may face. Please reach out to a trained medical professional or reach out to the help lines below:

  • 0800 LIFELINE (0800 54 33 54)or free text HELP (4357)

  • 0508 TAUTOKO (0508 82 88 65) Suicide Crisis Helpline

If this is an emergency, please phone 111

Emotional impact of a brain injury for their loved ones

Caring for a loved one who has experienced a brain injury can impact you emotionally. Your loved one has been through a trauma and may not be exactly who you knew before their injury. It is important to make sure your emotional and physical needs are also prioritised. Keep yourself well, talk to friends, your family, your GP or a support group. It can feel isolating, but you are not alone. 
Should you feel that your emotions are going to put you at risk of suicide or harm, please reach out to a trained medical professional or reach out to the help lines below:

  • 0800 LIFELINE (0800 54 33 54)or free text HELP (4357)

  • 0508 TAUTOKO (0508 82 88 65) Suicide Crisis Helpline

If this is an emergency, please phone 111

Caring for a child with a brain injury

Caring for a loved one who has experienced a brain injury can impact you emotionally. Your perfect little child may be different, need more help that they once may have needed and you may not be sure what to do. Keep yourself well, talk to friends, your family, your GP or a support group. It can feel isolating, but you are not alone. 
Should you feel that your emotions are going to put you at risk of suicide or harm, please reach out to a trained medical professional or reach out to the help lines below:

  • 0800 LIFELINE (0800 54 33 54)or free text HELP (4357)

  • 0508 TAUTOKO (0508 82 88 65) Suicide Crisis Helpline

If this is an emergency, please phone 111

 

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