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Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

The most obvious symptom of traumatic brain injury is an immediate loss of consciousness due to a concussion. But it is possible to have a serious concussion and still remain conscious.

A much publicized example of this was actress Natasha Richardson's reaction when she concussed during a seemingly harmless skiing accident. Although she exhibitedsymptoms of concussionseveral hours later and ultimately died of her injuries, Ms. Richardson remained conscious following her fall and indeed, was laughing and joking about it. But the delay in recognizing the potential danger of her condition may have cost her a chance to get the treatment she needed before it was too late. The moral of this tragic story is that anyone who suffers an injury to the head should immediately seek treatment from a physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911 even if they have no immediate symptoms. Below is a summary of what symptoms to look for:

With a mild traumatic brain injury the signs and symptoms of concussion may include:

  • A brief period of unconsciousness
  • Amnesia for events immediately before and after the injury
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears or a bad taste in the mouth
  • Mood changes
  • Memory or concentration problems

With a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury these additional symptoms may occur:

  • Persistent headache
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the extremities
  • Loss of coordination
  • Profound confusion
  • Agitation, combativeness

Due to their lack of the communication skills, young children may manifest the symptoms of headaches, sensory problems and confusion as follows:

  • Loss of appetite, refusal to eat
  • Crankiness
  • Altered sleep patterns and poor school performance
  • Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities

Anyone suffering a blow to the head followed by these symptoms should seek immediate medical care:

  • Convulsions
  • Weakness or numbness in the extremities
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Slurred speech

Merln Hurd PhD; BCN, QEEGT

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PVKelsey, LICSW

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