Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment

Following a traumatic brain injury, you will undergo a comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis to determine the best treatment for you. Traumatic brain injury symptoms or head trauma can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on the extent and cause of the brain damage.

Understanding Your Symptoms

If you’ve suffered a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), you may remain conscious or experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Symptoms of mild traumatic brain injuries include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Blurred vision or tired eyes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Behavioral or mood changes

For mild TBIs, treatment may include rest, observation, stitches, bandages and/or topical antibiotics.

With moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries or head trauma, more extensive treatment may be required, including hospitalization for observation, surgery and rehabilitation. Symptoms of moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries or head trauma may include:

  • Headache that gets worse or does not go away
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness or numbness in the extremities
  • Loss of coordination
  • Increased confusion, restlessness or agitation.

Other traumatic brain injury or head trauma symptoms include:

  • Leaking spinal fluid (thin water-looking liquid) out of the ears or nose
  • Respiratory failure
  • Coma or semi-comatose state
  • Paralysis, difficult movement, poor coordination
  • Slow pulse
  • Decreased breathing rate, with elevated blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty “thinking straight,” memory problems, poor judgment and attention span, reduced speed of thought processing
  • Inappropriate emotional reactions including irritability, feeling frustrated easily, crying or laughing unsuitably
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Loss of bowel control or bladder control

Advanced Diagnosis

Specific treatment of a traumatic brain injury will be determined by the physician based on these factors:

  • Age, overall health and medical history of the patient
  • Extent of the head injury
  • Type of head injury
  • Patient's tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies
  • Expectations for the course of the head injury
  • Patient's opinion or preference

The Traumatic Brain Injury Center offers diagnostic tests to help assess the severity, location and type of injury to the brain, including:

  • Blood tests — a test that can measure one protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), taken within 24 hours of someone's head injury, could predict the severity of a TBI
  • X-ray — a diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of the skull and spine onto film
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radio frequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of the nervous system
  • Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan) — a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images, or slices, of the body, both horizontally and vertically
    • A CAT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat and organs.
    • CAT scans are more detailed than general X-rays.
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) — a procedure that records the brain's continuous, electrical activity by means of electrodes attached to the scalp


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Northwell Health Traumatic Brain Injury Center

The Traumatic Brain Injury Center is dedicated to world-class diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases and disorders.