If you have ever heard of or seen a person who has experienced a concussion, you may have heard it referred to as simply a bruise to the brain. Or, maybe after you have been hit in the head, and were told that you are fine, or to just walk it off. However, receiving a blow to the head can be both scary and dangerous. Although short-term symptoms do not always show right away or may subside rather quickly, that doesn’t mean that later on down-the-road the effects of a concussion or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) won’t be long-term. In fact, symptoms and effects from head injuries can last for years afterwards.
Many people have difficulty identifying concussion symptoms, because they may not appear for a while after the initial blow to the head. These symptoms usually affect four areas:
1. Thinking and remembering
2. Your bodily functions
3. Mood and emotions
4. Quality of sleep
Many traumatic brain injuries often lead to psychological issues, and since the symptoms are not always present right after the initial injury, the cause for changing psychological behavior may not be properly diagnosed.
A concussion is a mild form of TBI, or physical injury to the brain. As a concussion is an injury that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain, due to being sloshed around abnormally, this damage can temporarily change how the brain functions, but does not change the overall appearance of the brain. However, concussions can be the root of someone’s sudden changes in behavior.
After a concussion, you may find your thoughts are unclear, or you don’t feel quite right. You may find you have trouble cognitively, meaning concentrating, thinking, or remembering things. You may physically have trouble balancing or trouble seeing. You may experience headaches, nausea, vomiting, extreme fatigue, or loss of energy. Your emotions and mood may be different, feeling irritable, sad, depressed, and anxious. You may also find that you are sleeping more or less than you usually do, or have difficulty falling asleep. It is important to understand, however, that you need only one of these symptoms present to be diagnosed with a concussion.
It is therefore important to be aware of the symptoms that may result from a concussion. These include:
- Memory issues or loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Ringing in the ears
- Trouble speaking
- Loss of coordination
- Weakness or numbness in parts of the body
- Irritability and moodiness
- Sensitivity to light and sound
Since brain injuries are not visible to the naked eye, someone with a concussion may “look” normal, or be directed to “just walk it off.” This is the worst advice, and medical help should be sought immediately. Concussions can be a very serious injury, and when left untreated, permanent brain damage may occur as a result.
Therefore, neuroimaging plays an important role in the evaluation of patients with traumatic brain injury. Now, more than ever with technology always evolving, and with the growing realization that even mild head injury can lead to various types of neurological damage and psychological issues, medical imaging for treating brain injuries has been brought to the forefront, as concussions happen more frequently, especially in sports like football.
To receive a clearer picture of traumatic brain injury, and where brain damage has occurred in the brain, imaging centers use MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to now visualize the effects of brain injuries such as concussions and TBIs, when before MRIs only detected abnormal brain activity. Up until now, it has not been possible for doctors and neurologists to visualize the effects of mild TBI (concussions) on an MRI scan, because a standard MRI only picks up significant damage to brain tissue.
However, as technology has evolved, a new technique using MRI following injection of dye called contrast can show tiny holes and damage to the meninges (thin membrane coverings of the brain and spinal cord), caused by a concussion. The meninges job is to hold the brain in place, and cushion the brain from harm. These newer, specialized types of MRI scans can now look and assess damage to the brains structure, or measure brain function to detect changes in the brains structure and function due to TBI and concussions.
To learn more about how MRI’s can help detect damage to the brain following a blow to the head, call Independent Imaging at (561) 795-5558 to request an appointment, or use our request an appointment form.