STAMFORD, Conn. -- For athletes, action-seekers and even the unsuspecting, traumatic brain injuries -- or TBI -- can cause serious complications TBI's are any injuries to the brain and can be the result from multiple causes, ranging from car or motorcycle accidents to falls, sports injuries or any injury that involves hitting the head or moving the neck in a sudden, abnormal manner.
Those who suffer aTBI often experience neurological symptoms such as include headaches, weakness, numbness or tingling, difficulty speaking, walking or balancing, dizziness, memory loss and in severe cases, seizures, coma or death.
"The injury itself and associated bleeding causes direct damage to the brain tissue," said Dr. Erin Manning of Hospital for Special Surgery. "There are also other effects on the brain that occur when the tissue is injured and, in the process of repairing, can cause further injury days or even weeks after the original injury." A TBI can have harmful long-term effects, especially if there is a severe initial injury or repeated injuries to the brain.
When assessing the severity of a TBIs, doctors classify the injuries as mild, moderate or severe. Using what is known as The Glasgow Coma Scale, doctors use eye opening, movement and response to pain, and speech to determine a score that assesses a patient’s level of consciousness. A patient has a mild TBI if the score is high and a severe TBI if the score is low.
Imaging is an important part of the medical work-up for a TBI. Usually, a patient’s first evaluation is a CT scan because it clearly shows blood or hemorrhages and can be performed quickly. However, with milder injuries, an MRI may be an appropriate first imaging study as MRI shows more details of the brain and can detect other injuries that are not hemorrhage.
Individuals who experience a TBI or TBI-like symptoms should contact their primary care physician or call 911 in more immediate, severe cases.
Dr. Erin Manning is a neurologist at Hospital for Special Surgery. She specializes in the treatment of neuromuscular disorders, including neuropathy, myopathy, spine disorders, autoimmune diseases and sports neurology, including head injuries and concussions. Dr. Manning currently practices at Hospital for Special Surgery’s Manhattan campus and Stamford Outpatient Center in Stamford.