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Recognizing the Hidden Signs of a TBI [infographic]

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) do not always cause readily apparent signs and symptoms and close monitoring following a suspected injury is essential for the administration of prompt treatment. When an injury is "silent," early recognition of signs and symptoms can have a significant impact on the individual's long-term recovery prospects.

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Hidden Signs of TBI

Many hidden signs of TBI are written off as unrelated to the injury. Taken individually, they are easily ignored. However, when examined collectively, they can lead to a correct diagnosis of TBI. These symptoms can include headaches and mood swings, a sudden bout of anxiety, depression, or emotional outbursts. Many TBI patients also experience sudden sensitivity to lights or sounds.

Common symptoms of TBI can include decreased reaction time, a general mental fogginess, and the inability to remember and retain information. TBI may cause temporary ringing in the ears, nausea, and changes to vision. Generally, the more pronounced the symptoms, the greater the degree of injury. 

Each of these symptoms can occur immediately after the injury-causing event, or they can be delayed by days or even weeks. Many times, these symptoms are mild and fleeting which helps mask the true severity of the injury.    

Impact of Undiagnosed TBI

Many of these hidden signs lead to changes in relationships, learning patterns, and sleep habits. The longer the injury remains undiagnosed, the more pronounced these changes become. The longer treatment is delayed, the more likely it is for the TBI to have lasting, potentially permanent consequences. In cases where the injury is severe, these consequences can be life-threatening. The more prompt the treatment, the better the prognosis for recovery. 

Even Minor Hits are Dangerous

Sports physicians, coaches, and EMT's used to believe that only injuries that caused concussions were dangerous. Advances in medical understanding have changed that viewpoint as physicians have learned that even subconcussive strikes can cause lasting injuries.

Subconcussive hits are vastly underreported because they don't often cause readily apparent injuries. However, the cumulative effect of these injuries can be significant. As such, students engaged in high-contact sports such as football, wrestling, hockey, etc. require close monitoring. This must include close tracking of their physical, mental, and emotional health because these are areas where the injury tends to manifest noticeable changes that can point to a traumatic brain injury.

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