Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

Written by Sierra Rein
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Although extreme traumatic damage to the brain can be easily diagnosed and visible to most medical doctors, mild traumatic brain injuries are often overlooked and misdiagnosed, even by professionals. Mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs) usually occur during an accident or athletic sports event, especially when the head is thrown forward or backwards at high speeds. The brain, floating within the skull, can become bruised and damaged, and axons (connective nerve fibers) can become twisted and frayed as well.

Patients suffering from mTBIs may exhibit emotional and psychological signs that may confuse friends and family members, such as emotional instability, forgetfulness, and an increase in clumsiness. This is because survivors of mild traumatic brain injuries experience a drop in long and short-term memory power and the ability to process visual input. These impairments tend to predispose mTBI sufferers to be six times more likely to get into car accidents and experience further head injuries.

Treatment Approaches to Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

Although neuropsychological testing can be helpful in diagnosing extreme TBIs, individuals with mild traumatic brain injuries are often labeled as "normal," despite the existence of behavioral clues. Many patients who suffer a mild head injury will be let out of the hospital in less than 24 hours, especially if they experienced 30 minutes or less of unconsciousness (or none at all). It is usually the observant friend and family member who recognizes emotional or physical abnormalities in the accident victim and recommends (or forces) the former patient to speak to an expert in the field.

Once diagnosed, the patient should refrain from any medication or liquids containing caffeine or other stimulants. Serotonergic medications, anti-depressants, and specific sleep regimens are often prescribed, while anti-anxiety medications are usually discouraged. Finally, cognition tests and exercises are utilized to strengthen focus and attention and a support group within the immediate area can be contacted for further information, socialization, and education.

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