Brain injury is damage to the brain caused by trauma or disease.
Traumatic brain injury is caused either externally by physical force to the head or internally by, for example, lack of oxygen to the brain. Many traumatic brain injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries and assaults. A blow to the head that damages the skin and bones of the skull as well as the brain itself is called a skull fracture.
Treatment for a skull fracture varies with the location and the severity of the fracture. Many skull fractures cause mild to severe motor, cognitive, visual and behavioural disabilities. A blow to the brain that causes bruising of the brain and a noticeable loss of functions is called a brain contusion. Where the head injury causes bleeding between the skull and the covering of the brain, an epidural haematoma occurs; between the membrane covering the brain and the brain itself, a subdural haematoma. Haematomas may require surgical treatment called a craniotomy.
A brain injury usually causes loss of consciousness for anywhere from a few minutes to days, weeks or months. If the loss of consciousness is short, return to full or nearly full function is likely. As the loss of consciousness or coma lengthens, however, intellectual-cognitive and sensory-motor impairment, physical disabilities and behavioural disorders are more likely to occur. A person in a coma cannot speak, open his or her eyes, or respond to external stimuli. For more information on the coma state and for support for those who wait for their loved ones to awaken from those who have waited, visit www.waiting.com.
Brain injury does not, however, always involve loss of consciousness. Brain trauma, with little or no loss of consciousness can also cause temporary or permanent brain damage.
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