Brain Damage: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

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Quick GuideConcussions & Brain Injuries: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment

Concussions & Brain Injuries: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment

How are brain damage and brain injuries treated?

Anyone who has a head or brain injury needs immediate medical attention.

A brain injury that seems mild -- referred to as a concussion -- can be as dangerous as clearly severe injuries. The key factor is the extent and location of the damage. Brain injury does not necessarily result in long-term disability or impairment. But the correct diagnosis and treatment is needed to contain or minimize the damage.

The extent and effect of brain damage is determined by a neurological exam, neuroimaging testing such as X-rays or CT scans, and neuropsychological assessment such as checking reflexes. Doctors will stabilize the patient to prevent further injury, ensure blood and oxygen are flowing properly to the brain, and ensure that blood pressure is controlled.

About half of severely injured patients require surgery to repair a ruptured blood vessel or to relieve pressure on the brain.

If a patient is severely injured, rehabilitation may be ordered to assist in long-term recovery. That may include:

  • physical therapy
  • occupational therapy
  • speech and language therapy
  • psychological support

Can I prevent brain injuries?

Most injuries that cause brain damage are preventable. Here are some rules to follow to reduce the risk of brain damage:

  • Never shake a child.
  • Install window guards to keep young children from falling out of open windows.
  • Install shock-absorbing material on playgrounds.
  • Wear helmets during sports or cycling.
  • Wear seatbelts in cars, and drive carefully.
  • Avoid falls by using a stepstool when reaching for high items.
  • Install handrails on stairways.
  • Don't keep guns; if you do, keep them unloaded and locked away.
  • Don't use illegal drugs.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation, and never drink and drive.

WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; "Traumatic Brain Injury Information Page."
New Jersey Monthly: "Questions From Steve Adubato."
National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders: "Traumatic Brain Injury: Cognitive and Communication Disorders."
Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania: "Tips for Preventing Brain Injury."

Reviewed by Jon Glass on March 02, 2010

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