Traumatic brain injury

A severe external force or blow to the head can cause an immediate disturbance of consciousness.

Overview

A severe external force or blow to the head can cause an immediate disturbance of consciousness. It is a potentially life-threatening situation and requires urgent medical treatment. Concussion is the least severe form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Wearing a protective helmet when exposed to potential risk is recommended as a preventive measure.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Headache
  • Immediate disturbance of onsciousness (main symptom) of differing degrees of severity
    • From slight disorientation to coma (deep unconsciousness accompanied by the loss of all reaction)
    • From a few minutes (concussion) to many days (cerebral compression)
    • Memory loss (amnesia) about the accident

Other symptoms

  • Different pupil size in each eye
  • Loss of nerve function: paralysis and sensory disturbances
  • Bleeding from the nose, mouth, ears
  • Leakage of clear or bright red cerebrospinal fluid from the nose or ears
  • Disturbances of involuntary body functions (vegetative functions):
    • Vomiting (immediate or delayed)
    • Fluctuations in blood pressure
    • Heart arrhythmia, breathing problems
    • Gross metabolic disorder

Causes and treatment

Causes

  • External head trauma (e.g. heavy collision or impact)
    • Mechanical injury to the scalp, skullcap and brain (differing degrees of severity)
    • Bleeding (e.g. injured blood vessels in the head)
    • Increased intracranial pressure

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Examination of face and skull
  • Neurological assessment
  • Medical imaging (in particular CT scan)
Possible therapies
  • Observation (moderate to severe injuries in intensive care ward)
  • Reduction of intracranial pressure (medication, physical/surgical)
  • (Surgical) treatment of injuries (head, bones, etc.)
  • Neurological rehabilitation for serious injuries

What can I do myself?

  • Accident prevention
    • Circumspect conduct, self-assessment
  • Wear protective helmet when exposed to potential risk
    • Provide first aid!
    • Unconscious but still breathing: Lie patient in recovery position (stable side position)
    • Immediately start first aid (cardiac massage/reanimation) if patient is unconscious and doesn't appear to be breathing

When to see a doctor?

Blunt force as well as penetrating head injuries require medical treatment.

Further information

Information about numerous regional associations throughout Switzerland for patients with brain injuries is provided by

FRAGILE Suisse:
www.fragile.ch

Synonyms

craniocerebral injury, craniocerebral trauma, cct, traumatic brain injury, brain compression, brain contusion, cerebral contusion, cerebral compression

Exclusion of liability

CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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