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How is traumatic brain injury treated?

Suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is every bit as serious as it sounds. It has the potential to be permanent and life-changing, for the injury victim and for the whole family.

Fortunately, the medical world has come a long way over the years, with more treatment options available than ever before, and promises new treatments on the horizon.

No two people and no two traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are exactly the same, which means the treatment strategy can and will vary from one person to the next. Treatment of brain trauma may involve any or all of the following:

  • Immediate emergency care -- This is all about making sure the injured party maintains a normal blood pressure and is getting enough oxygen. Treatment immediately following a traumatic brain injury is based on preventing additional injuries. Rest is critical, as trying to resume normal activity too soon can delay recover or cause further harm.
  • Medication – There is no medication for directly treating or curing a traumatic brain injury. However, there are a variety of medications that can limit additional damage and alleviate symptoms. For example, diuretics can help reduce dangerous fluid build-up. Physicians also administer anti-seizure meds or drugs to medically induce a coma.

  • Surgery -- In the event of a skull fracture, surgery may be necessary to repair the damage or remove bone fragments. Doctors may also need to remove a hematoma (blood clot) or insert a shunt to drain cerebrospinal fluid. Without intervention, brain swelling or hematomas can cause additional brain damage or death.

  • Rehabilitation – TBI patients may need to relearn basic skills like walking, talking and eating. Inpatient and outpatient rehab may involve many professionals, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech pathologist, neuropsychologist, vocational counselors and a social worker or private nurses.

There is help and hope after a TBI

Some people are able to make a full recovery after a traumatic brain injury, while others suffer from the impact for the rest of their life. It's important to receive the right medical care at the right time, as this improves the odds of making a full recovery.

There are new tools in development for diagnosing traumatic brain injuries, including post-concussion syndrome. Prompt diagnosis is often critical to mitigating damage and making maximum recovery. There are also ongoing clinical trials for new drugs and therapies to help TBI victims recover more fully and more quickly.

Lastly, there are support groups specifically for people with TBI and for their family caregivers who are coping with the long-term care needs and the personal and financial impact.

Depending on the cause of the injury, you may want to learn more about your legal rights. An example of this would be a traumatic brain injury in a car accident resulting from the negligence of another driver. Once you understand your legal rights, you can learn more about seeking compensation for your injuries and related damages.

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