Brain Injury and Your Brain
However, when there is a brain injury, the system becomes dysregulated or, in other words, the brain becomes stuck in specific brainwave patterns. Thus, it is no longer resilient and flexible, and often becomes over-reactive (hyper arousal – anxiety). When this happens, to protect itself the brain shuts down causing depression, fatigue, inattentiveness.
The Linear and Nonlinear Brain
Communication between areas of the brain is critical for coordination of neuronal activity that underlies higher cognitive function and complex decision making.
After a brain injury, the brain quarantines the injured area and allocates resources toward recovery and healing.
When a person experiences trauma, communication between brain areas is interrupted to prevent additional stress on the organism.
Understanding Brain Tissue and Brain Scanning
CT ScanA CT scan uses many layers of X-rays to show the structure of the brain, detecting obvious brain injury as well as large tumors or hemorrhages. It can miss small issues, so if a doctor wants greater detail and resolution they may decide to have a better scan.
The next level of detail is an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). The science behind this scan is complex, but essentially it generates a strong magnetic field around the brain and can distinguish different tissue types by how they respond to the field. The MRI measures the same grey matter that the CT scan does, giving doctors an image of the structure of the brain with a bit better detail. There are two types, a T3 or T4 MRI. The T4 is the higher quality scan.
The White Matter System
In the above image you can see the brain viewed from the side (left image) and the front (right image). With this type of image doctors can begin to identify areas where the brain’s communication superhighway has been damaged.
Brain Injury Vs. Head Injury
Symptoms of a Brain Injury
- Confrontational attitude
- Explosive temper
- Fear of “going crazy”
- Frustration or anger
- Guilt or shame
- Feelings of helplessness
- Frequent mood changes
- Temporary Amnesia
- Problems with Speaking
- Poor Judgment
- Slow Thinking
- Inability to Focus Attention
- Problems Remembering What You Heard
- Word Finding Problems
- Feelings of Confusion
- Long or Short Term Memory Problems
Types of Brain Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
Stroke or Brain Aneurysm
Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)
Mild, Moderate, and Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries
The terms mild, moderate, and severe are not used the same way as other areas in medicine, or in life. The term mild typically means not so bad, such as I have a mild cold or the “weather will be mild today.” However, these terms when relating to brain injury have nothing to do with the severity of injury. Rather, they refer to the length of time a person is unconscious or lacks awareness of their environment.
- Mild: Zero to 60 minutes
- Moderate: 1 – 24 hours
- Severe: Greater than 24 hours.