Understanding the Different Types of Brain Injury and Their Treatments

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a person experiences a blow or jolt to the head. It can affect the brain cells temporarily or permanently.

Treatment is usually needed immediately or within a few weeks of the injury. It can include medications and physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury is like brain damage due to physical trauma. It can be caused by falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and assaults with or without a weapon.

Mild traumatic brain injuries usually do not require hospital treatment and can resolve over time with rest and over-the-counter pain relievers for headaches. More severe traumatic brain injuries require intensive medical and rehabilitation treatments.

Doctors from brain injury centers, for example, The Hartman Center, will help treat traumatic brain injury by ensuring the person gets enough oxygen and other nutrients and treating bleeding vessels or large blood clots (hematomas). They also use drugs to put people into temporary comas, which help keep them safe from seizures and infection.

Patients with moderate to severe head injury may need surgery to repair skull fractures, remove clotted blood (hematomas), or reduce pressure inside the brain. They might also need diuretics to control fluid buildup and prevent seizures. They may need counseling for emotional support.

Acquired Brain Injury

Acquired brain injury is damage that occurs after birth. It is distinct from congenital disorders, developmental disabilities, and degenerative diseases that affect the brain.

The most common type of brain injury is traumatic (TBI). Traumatic brain injuries can occur from a fall, a car crash, or a severe accident at work or play.

Recovery from traumatic brain injury varies depending on the cause of the TBI, but most people recover completely and go on to lead everyday lives. Long-term effects can include problems with concentration, memory, personality, and speech and language impairment.

Brain injury survivors can often benefit from rehabilitation services, including physical therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Treatments focus on improving functional independence and quality of life. Therapists use experience-dependent neuroplasticity to stimulate a person’s brain and help them develop new ways of thinking.


A concussion is the most common traumatic brain injury (TBI) when the head is shaken or jarred. It can be mild or severe, depending on the force of the blow.

The essential treatment for a concussion is rest. This includes sleeping at night and taking naps or rest breaks during the day when needed.

Your doctor will also run various tests to assess your health and look for any other injuries. This may include a balance test or a vision test.

The severity of your symptoms will be the determining factor in your recovery timeline. It can take weeks or months to recover fully from a concussion.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

Diffuse axonal injury is the most common form of traumatic brain injury. It’s caused when the long connecting nerve fibers (axons) are sheared due to the brain shifting and rotating inside the skull.

DAI is usually caused by a high-speed vehicle accident or fall. It also can occur due to child abuse, such as shaken baby syndrome.

Doctors can diagnose diffuse axonal injury by looking at a patient’s medical history and performing an examination. They may also perform tests to help them determine the severity of the damage.

DAI is often a severe condition that requires extensive rehabilitation. Treatment typically begins by alleviating swelling in the brain and relieving pressure in the head. After that, the individual may initiate a program focusing on physical, occupational, and speech therapy.

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