Traumatic brain injury symptoms can affect everything from your physical movement to your personality.
In today’s article, we’ll cover mild traumatic brain injury symptoms first, then move on to signs of severe brain injuries.
Let’s get started.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
Mild traumatic brain injuries can easily be missed if you are not aware of their signs and symptoms.
The most common symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury are:
- Problems with attention and concentration
- Sensitivity to light and sounds
- Memory loss
The memory loss after mild TBI typically revolves around the moments immediately before and after the injury.
If the person has difficulty remembering family or even their own identity, that’s a sign of more severe brain damage, and you should take them to the hospital immediately.
Sometimes these symptoms will not appear right away, which can make mild brain injuries hard to detect.
That’s why we recommend seeing a doctor whenever you hit your head. This way, you can receive treatment right away and reduce the risk of long-term problems.
Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
Moderate to severe brain injuries have more serious side effects than mild TBIs.
A brain injury is considered moderate if a person was unconscious between twenty minutes and six hours.
If a person was unconscious for longer than 6 hours, and if they score below an 8 on the Glasgow Coma Scale, their injury is considered severe.
The following are the most common symptoms of moderate-to-severe brain injuries.
Severe TBIs can cause various physical symptoms, including:
- Loss of consciousness
- Trouble sleeping
- Persistent nausea and vomiting
- Balance issues
- Severe headaches
- Loss of bladder and bowel function
- Problem with coordinating movement (apraxia)
- Spasticity and brain injury paralysis
- Muscle weakness
You can also develop seizures and epilepsy after TBI.
This mainly happens only after certain types of traumatic brain injuries.
A traumatic brain injury, especially if it causes parietal lobe damage, can also disrupt your ability to process your senses.
This can lead to problems with your hearing, such as:
- Hearing loss
- Pure word deafness
- Sensitivity to sounds
- Ringing in the ears
If your brain injury caused occipital lobe damage, this could lead to visual issues, including:
- Visual field loss (partial blindness)
- Double vision
- Color blindness (inability to perceive color)
- Color agnosia (loss of color knowledge)
- Light sensitivity
- Loss of depth perception
Besides problems with sight and sound, a severe brain injury can make you lose your sense of taste, smell, and touch. It can also cause strange sensations on your skin and make it hard for you to feel hot or cold.
Severe brain injuries almost always cause cognitive difficulties.
The following are the most common cognitive effects of brain injury.
- Attention problems. These make it hard to shift attention between tasks and hold your focus long enough to finish a conversation.
- Executive dysfunction. This refers to problems with higher skills such as decision making, planning, and organizing.
- Information processing problems. These makes it tough to follow what you are listening to or reading.
- Memory issues. Both short- and long-term memory can be impaired.
- Meta-cognitive problems. This makes it hard for a person to monitor their own words and actions. It can also cause them not to notice their new disability. (called anosognosia)
You can treat these and other cognitive issues with cognitive exercises for TBI patients.
Social Communication Problems
Other traumatic brain injury symptoms will involve difficulties with language.
Some language difficulties have to do with the social aspect of communication.
If you have these issues, you can struggle to recognize what is inappropriate in particular social situations.
These social communication problems include:
- Trouble staying on topic
- Not speaking enough
- Talking too much and not letting others speak
- Problems using the right facial expressions and tone of voice
- Trouble interpreting another person’s facial expressions and tone of voice
A speech therapist can help you relearn the skills to carry on a conversation with another person.
This will help you maintain friendships and avoid the social isolation that often comes with brain injury.
Besides the social side of language, a brain injury can also affect someone’s very ability to speak. This is caused by physical and cognitive issues, such as:
- Difficulty producing or understanding spoken words.
- Trouble recognizing written words.
- Problems remembering the names of familiar objects.
- Slurred speech.
- Swallowing problems.
Once again, a speech therapist is the best person to treat these issues and help you learn how to speak again after brain injury.
Severe TBI can lead to several emotional problems after traumatic brain injury.
These are primarily caused by frontal lobe injuries.
Some frontal lobe damage symptoms are:
- Low motivation
- Severe mood swings (emotional lability)
- Lack of emotions (flat affect)
- Trouble identifying emotions
Besides all these symptoms, a brain injury can also cause feelings of PTSD.
PTSD causes many of the same symptoms as brain injury, but it also includes a heightened sensitivity to danger and involuntary memories of the traumatic event.
Finally, a TBI can cause several issues with behavior. These include:
- Violent and aggressive behavior
- Rude words and actions
- Easily frustrated
These behaviors are frightening for friends and family to witness, but you can manage it with the help of a psychologist familiar with traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
There you have it! These are the most common traumatic brain injury symptoms. Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of what to expect after brain injury.
We know how overwhelming looking at this list of symptoms must seem. But there is some good news.
And that is that many of these symptoms can be reversed with the right traumatic brain injury treatment!
The brain possesses an incredible capacity to heal itself through a mechanism called neuroplasticity.
This mechanism lets healthy brain areas take control of injured ones. And the best way to engage it is through therapeutic exercise.
Even if you have been living with these traumatic brain injury symptoms for years, you can still engage neuroplasticity and start recovering right now.
It will take a lot of work, but it is possible.