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How are traumatic brain injuries treated?

When you think of a concussion, you don't normally consider that it is a mild form of traumatic brain injury, yet it is. However, these minor injuries typically do not require other treatment besides rest, monitoring and perhaps a couple doses of over-the-counter headache remedies.

It is important to note that even after only a minor TBI, the patient should avoid any type of cognitive or physical activities until they have been cleared by a doctor to return to normal daily activities.

But treatment for more serious TBIs is much more aggressive. The focus lies on ensuring the injured person has adequate blood and oxygen supplies, the blood pressure is maintained at acceptable levels and there are no additional injuries to the patient's neck or head.

Secondary damage may also have to be minimized, as often those with serious head injuries also are suffering from other life-threatening injuries that must be medically addressed once the patient has initially been stabilized. Treatments can minimize damage from unstaunched bleeding, inflammation or a reduction of oxygen to the patient's brain.

Sometimes physicians use drugs like diuretics to decrease fluid in tissues surrounding the injury to relieve pressure on delicate brain matter. Other useful drugs for treating TBIs are anti-seizure drugs and the strong drugs that can be used to induce a coma in patients to reduce the amount of oxygen necessary to keep the brain functional.

Emergency surgery might have to be performed to open a portion of the skull to relieve pressure and remove blood clots. If the skull has been fractured, surgical procedures can be done to repair the bones and remove bone fragments from brain tissue.

All of these procedures can be quite costly, and if the injury resulted from an at-fault accident with another person, the victim may have to take legal action to be compensated for damages and medical expenses.

Source: Mayo Clinic, "Traumatic brain injury," accessed May 20, 2016

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