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What are traumatic brain injuries and how are they treated?

Every year, many Pittsburgh car and truck accidents lead to severe injuries and even death. Some of the most serious injuries involve traumatic injury to the brain. When an accident occurs, drivers and passengers may suffer from a traumatic brain injury. This type of injury typically occurs when a person's head violently strikes an object or when an object penetrates the cranium and enters the brain tissue.

Victims of traumatic brain injuries may suffer from mild, moderate, or severe symptoms depending on the severity of the brain damage. Milder symptoms include a loss of consciousness for a few seconds, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, loss of memory and confusion. Those with more severe brain injuries can experience seizures, long-lasting headaches, vomiting, slurred speech and a loss of coordination.

About 50 percent of people with severe head injuries will need surgery. The surgery will typically involve the removal or repair of ruptured blood vessels or contusions. Patients may also receive rehabilitative treatment involving physical therapy or speech therapy.

However, even with treatment, some car accident victims may experience a disability of some kind. Many of these disabilities include problems with thinking, communication and sensory processing. Some disabilities result in depression, anxiety or personality changes. If the injury is severe, the victim may be in a coma or in a persistent vegetative state for a long period of time. Car accident victims who suffer from these injuries -- and their families -- have a long road ahead of them. However, there is research being done to improve the future for many of these people.

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "NINDS Traumatic Brain Injury Information Page," accessed on Oct. 28, 2014

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