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

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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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