Troy Anderson, MD, is a board-certified neurologist and sleep specialist on staff at Banner Estrella Medical Center. His office is located at 14044 W. Camelback Road in Litchfield Park and can be reached at (623) 535-0050.
Question: What are the primary causes of brain injury and are the injuries reversible?
Answer: There are a number of things that can cause brain injury: motor vehicle collisions, household or work related accidents and falls to name a few. About 1.4 million people in the United States sustain a traumatic brain injury annually. Of those, 50,000 do not survive. Another 235,000 are hospitalized and approximately 1.1 million are treated in emergency rooms and released. An unknown number are never reported.
There are several levels of severity ranging from a minor concussion with no residual symptoms to severe injuries with either irreversible injury or prolonged coma that can cause disability.
Even the most minor brain injury can cause post concussive syndrome. Symptoms include insomnia, poor concentration, poor memory, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, double vision and vertigo. The most important symptoms of impairment for somebody who is part of the work force and functional would be fatigue, poor concentration and memory.
It is important for a doctor to evaluate the injury so it can be treated appropriately. It is also important to educate the patient as to how their injury can affect their ability to perform in their job. Sometimes the injury is so severe that we have to make them disabled right away.
A contusion can cause a diffuse brain tissue bruising, while an injury to an artery or vein can result in a collection of blood described medically as a subdural or an epidural hematoma. If the injury has caused a pooling of blood that is compromising the survival of brain tissue, then a neurosurgical procedure can be life saving or vital to the improvement of the patient’s future quality of life.
Whether surgery is required or not, all brain injuries with residual symptoms are usually treated with rehabilitation and medications to treat the symptoms that are present like headache for example. Cognitive exercises such as memory games, crossword puzzles, scrabble, etc., can help the patient recover important daily brain functions.