Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when a bump, blow, jolt, or other head injury causes damage to the brain. Every year, millions of people in the U.S. suffer brain injuries. More than half are bad enough that people must go to the hospital. The worst injuries can lead to permanent brain damage or death. Half of all TBIs are from motor vehicle accidents. Military personnel in combat zones are also at risk.

Symptoms of a TBI may not appear until days or weeks following the injury. A concussion is the mildest type. It can cause a headache or neck pain, nausea, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and tiredness. People with a moderate or severe TBI may have those, plus other symptoms:

  • A headache that gets worse or does not go away
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms and legs
  • Dilated eye pupils

Health care professionals use a neurological exam and imaging tests to assess TBI. Serious traumatic brain injuries need emergency treatment. Treatment and outcome depend on how severe the injury is. TBI can cause a wide range of changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, or emotions. TBI can be associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. People with severe injuries usually need rehabilitation.

Concussion

A concussion is a type of brain injury. It’s the most minor form. Technically, a concussion is a short loss of normal brain function in response to a head injury. But people often use it to describe any minor injury to the head or brain.

Concussions are a common type of sports injury. You can also have one if you suffer a blow to the head or hit your head after a fall.

Symptoms of a concussion may not start right away; they may start days or weeks after the injury. Symptoms may include a headache or neck pain. You may also have nausea, ringing in your ears, dizziness, or tiredness. You may feel dazed or not your normal self for several days or weeks after the injury. Consult your health care professional if any of your symptoms get worse, or if you have more serious symptoms such as

  • Seizures
  • Trouble walking or sleeping
  • Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech

Doctors use a neurologic exam and imaging tests to diagnose a concussion. Most people recover fully after a concussion, but it can take some time. Rest is very important after a concussion because it helps the brain to heal.

Facial Injuries and Disorders

Face injuries and disorders can cause pain and affect how you look. In severe cases, they can affect sight, speech, breathing and your ability to swallow. Broken bones, especially the bones of your nose, cheekbone and jaw, are common facial injuries.

Certain diseases also lead to facial disorders. For example, nerve diseases like trigeminal neuralgiaor Bell’s palsy sometimes cause facial pain, spasms and trouble with eye or facial movement. Birth defects can also affect the face. They can cause underdeveloped or unusually prominent facial features or a lack of facial expression. Cleft lip and palate are a common facial birth defect.

Head Injuries

Also called: Cranial injuries, Skull fractures, Skull injuries

Chances are you’ve bumped your head before. Usually, the injury is minor because your skull is hard and it protects your brain. But other head injuries can be more severe, such as a skull fracture,concussion, or traumatic brain injury.

Head injuries can be open or closed. A closed injury does not break through the skull. With an open, or penetrating, injury, an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Closed injuries are not always less severe than open injuries.

Some common causes of head injuries are falls, motor vehicle accidents, violence, and sports injuries.

It is important to know the warning signs of a moderate or severe head injury. Get help immediately if the injured person has

  • A headache that gets worse or does not go away
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • An inability to wake up
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation

Headache

Headache is the most common form of pain. It’s a major reason people miss days at work or school or visit the doctor.

The most common type of headache is a tension headache. Tension headaches are due to tight muscles in your shoulders, neck, scalp and jaw. They are often related to stress, depression or anxiety. You are more likely to get tension headaches if you work too much, don’t get enough sleep, miss meals, or use alcohol.

Other common types of headaches include migraines, cluster headaches, and sinus headaches. Most people can feel much better by making lifestyle changes, learning ways to relax and taking pain relievers.

Migraine

Migraines are recurring attacks of moderate to severe pain. The pain is throbbing or pulsing, and is often on one side of the head. During migraines, people are very sensitive to light and sound. They may also become nauseated and vomit.

Migraine is three times more common in women than in men. Some people can tell when they are about to have a migraine because they see flashing lights or zigzag lines or they temporarily lose their vision.

Many things can trigger a migraine. These include

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Lack of food or sleep
  • Exposure to light
  • Hormonal changes (in women)

Migraine is a neurological disease characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches often in association with a number of autonomic nervous systemsymptoms

Migraine is a neurological disease characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches often in association with a number of autonomic nervous systemsymptoms. The word is derived from the Greek ἡμικρανία (hemikrania), “pain on one side of the head”, from ἡμι- (hemi-), “half”, and κρανίον (kranion), “skull”.

Typically, the headache affects one half of the head, is pulsating in nature, and lasts from 2 to 72 hours. Associated symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, andsensitivity to light, sound, or smell. The pain is generally made worse by physical activity. Up to one-third of people with migraine headaches perceive an aura: a transient visual, sensory, language, or motor disturbance which signals that the headache will soon occur. Occasionally, an aura can occur with little or no headache following it.

Migraines are believed to be due to a mixture of environmental and genetic factors. About two-thirds of cases run in families. Changing hormone levels may also play a role, as migraines affect slightly more boys than girls before puberty, but about two to three times more women than men.  The risk of migraines usually decreases during pregnancy. The exact mechanisms of migraine are not known. It is, however, believed to be a neurovascular disorder.  The primary theory is related to increased excitability of the cerebral cortex and abnormal control of pain neurons in the trigeminal nucleus of the brainstem.

Initial recommended management is with simple pain medication such as ibuprofen and paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen) for the headache, medication for the nausea, and the avoidance of triggers. Specific agents such as triptans or ergotamines may be used by those for whom simple analgesics are not effective. Globally, approximately 15% of the population is affected by migraines at some point in life.