The analogy of an egg can give you an idea of how serious brain damage can take place without much – or even any – outward sign of damage. Think of the cranium – all the bones that hold the brain – as being like the shell of an egg with the brain like the yolk inside the egg. When traumatized, the outer cranium/shell may remain intact, but inside, the brain/ egg yolk can be violently displaced as it is thrown within the white of the egg, or the cerebral spinal fluid.
First, you need to call 911 – or get someone to call 911 and get an ambulance on the way immediately if the injured person has:
Blood or clear fluids coming from the ears or nose;
Unconsciousness, confusion, dizziness, or drowsiness;
Unequal pupil size or blurred or double vision.
Do not move the person’s head, as they may have a broken neck and you could cause them to stop breathing or become paralyzed from moving it. Instead if you have something cold, put it next to their head WITHOUT MOVING THEIR HEAD.
Then, assuming it’s someone else and not you who’s injured, you can help to a great extent by letting emergency personnel know the extent of the injury even before they arrive on the scene. Research has demonstrated that the more quickly an injured person is assessed and appropriate emergency treatment given, the better the outcome down the road.
If you’re talking to emergency personnel on a cell phone before they arrive, here’s some of what they will want to know. In addition to whether or not the person is breathing, it will help them to know:
- The person’s eye opening response: do they open their eyes spontaneously, do they blink, respond with their eyes to verbal stimuli, command or speech, only to pain, or no eye response.
- How do they respond to verbal input: do they seem oriented? Confused in their conversation even though they have the ability to respond to questions, do they answer inappropriately or with incomprehensible speech, or give no response?
- What is their motor response? Can they obey a command for movement (such as can you lift your finger, stick out your tongue, etc.), do they move purposefully in response to pain, do they withdraw from pain, flex in response to pain, extend their body in response to pain or give no response?
The answers to these questions are ones that can tell professionals the part of the brain may be injured, the extent and severity of the insult, and the depth of injury, for example, and whether the person’s head injury is minor, moderate or severe.[ii]
Once the emergency is taken care of and the person is medically stable, they may have been discharged from the hospital and told they can go on with their normal life. But that doesn’t mean the traumatic brain injury problems are done. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the signs and symptoms of a TBI “can be subtle and may not appear until days or weeks following the injury or may even be missed as people may look fine even though they may act or feel differently.
The following are some common signs and symptoms that the traumatic brain injury is still an issue:
Headaches or neck pain that do not go away;
Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions;
Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading;
Getting lost or easily confused;
Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation;
Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason);
Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping);
Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance;
Urge to vomit (nausea);
Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions;
Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily;
Loss of sense of smell or taste; and
Ringing in the ears.”
If these symptoms are taking place, it’s time to get to appropriate health professionals who can provide the ongoing care necessary to bring about further recovery and healing. This may take the form of targeted nutritional support, massage and/or chiropractic care, herbs, physical therapy or homeopathy.
As judgment and decision-making are affected as part of the injury, others may need to play an active role in seeing to it that these treatment options are found and instigated. That’s because the very after-effects of the injury can play against the injured person finding these options, making the appointments and remembering to show up for them.