Suffering a brain injury is no easy thing. The plurality of potential symptoms meets with the potential long-term effects to create a poor prognosis for many unfortunate enough to experience them. But new technological leaps could pave the way to a better quality of life.
What is a Brain Injury?
The above question might seem a simple one, with a simple answer. But brain injuries are by no means simple, and by no means simply defined. There are two major categories under which a brain injury can fall: hypoxic and traumatic. Of civil brain injury claims in the UK, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are the most common – with 95% of claims revolving around some form of traumatic injury or incident.
TBIs are brain injuries suffered as a result of a specific or direct injury. The brain is damaged through direct contact or the transfer of force. A direct strike to the head is in an assault or a serious fall might compromise the cranium, sending shockwaves of energy through the brain and potentially crushing the skull into the cranial cavity. Alternatively, a car accident or sudden stop might see the brain bashed against the occipital bone, causing internal trauma and intracranial hypertension.
Hypoxic brain injuries refer specifically to injuries caused as a result of loss of blood or oxygen to the head. These injuries reflect birth injuries that might lead to cerebral palsy, or serious medical events that might alter the brain’s response to stimuli.
How are Brain Injuries Diagnosed and Treated?
While the potential causes of a brain injury are plain to see, diagnosing a brain injury is not as straightforward. There are immediate symptoms that can indicate brain injury, such as the ‘fencing response’ which can indicate a severe rotational brain injury. Conscious patients might also exhibit difficulty speaking, remembering key pieces of information or responding to any stimuli.
Brain injuries are more comprehensively diagnosed through careful and thorough examination, particularly CT and MRI scans. CT scans can show the development of fluid accumulations in the cranial cavity, indicating swelling on the brain. MRI scans build a more complete picture of the brain, including internal bleeding or swelling and abnormal electrochemical readings.
The Role of Technology in Developing Treatment
Treating brain injuries is even more difficult than diagnosing them. Each injury presents its own unique roadblocks to recovery, and no one route to recovery is quite the same. In many cases, with robust psychological and physiological support, complete recovery is not quite possible.
However, new technological advances are changing the prognosis for many victims of traumatic brain injury. Much of the research has been into early detection, such as microsensors that monitor force and trauma experienced in specific applications. Physiotherapy programmes have improved greatly over time, and new nerve-grafting technology could well be the key to reversing paralyzing brain injury events altogether.