What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
In some ways, a TBI is the most straight-forward mental health concern there is. It’s when any outside force impacts the head hard enough to cause the brain to move within the skull or when the force causes the skull to break and directly hurts the brain. TBIs vary based on severity and cause. The more severe the injury, the more serious and long-term the effects will be. When in doubt, get professional help as soon as possible.
What causes a TBI?
Unlike other mental health conditions, there are two very clear ways a TBI may occur. Work with a medical professional or team of professionals to determine the extent of the injury and get your child or loved one the help they need.
Direct blow to the head or to the brain:Common causes are motor vehicle accidents, firearms/bullets, falls, sports, or physical violence.
Rapid acceleration & deceleration:These actions cause stress and pull apart nerve fibers, which damage brain tissue. Common causes are motor vehicle accidents or physical violence, such as Shaken Baby Syndrome.
What TBI symptoms can I look for?
If your child suffers a traumatic brain injury, there may be consequences in many areas. We’re separating them into cognitive (thinking) changes, behavior changes, and sensory changes. Some of these will be obvious and others will require observation and/or cooperation from you and your child. Once a medical professional like someone from our team is involved, they will help you identify the changes and use them to determine the severity of the TBI and the best treatment plan.
Cognitive changes:Memory, decision making and planning, sequencing and organization, judgment, attention and perception, communication, reading and writing skills, thought processing speed, problem solving skills, self-perception, thought flexibility, safety awareness, dizziness, or ability to learn new things
Sensory changes:Blurred vision, new sensitivity to light/sound, ringing in their ears, loss of the sense of smell, or a bad taste in their mouth
Behavior changes:Loss of consciousness at time of injury, social skills, emotional control, mood swings, self-monitoring the appropriateness of remarks and actions, reduced self-esteem, depression, irritability and agitation, anxiety, frustration, stress, denial, self-centeredness, anger management, coping skills, low motivation, or excessive laughing or crying
How is a TBI treated?
If your child has suffered a head injury of almost any kind, get help immediately. If you’re not sure, ask a trusted professional. Our team and others are always prepared to help.
When it comes to caring for someone with a TBI, there may be many healthcare professionals involved including neurology, psychiatry, physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive rehabilitation, and applied behavior analysis. This team works together to understand the full impact of the TBI and to determine the best treatment plan for your child or loved one. Most commonly, the TBI treatment plan will include medications and a combination of therapies to achieve the best outcomes.
We know the phrase “traumatic brain injury” is intimidating enough without thinking it may apply to someone you love. It’s okay to be scared or worried. TBIs are no joke, but there is help available. Please ask us any questions you have. It’s important for you to have all the information you need to feel comfortable with the role you’ll play in your child’s recovery. We’re here for you.
What should I do next?
If you believe your child or loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury or if you just need to talk to someone who knows about dealing with TBIs, call us. Two other logical people to contact in this situation are:
- Pediatrician or primary care physician
- Mental health specialist