Brain trauma can occur as a consequence of an impact to the head or by a sudden acceleration/deceleration within the cranium. Injury can range from concussion (the mildest form of TBI) to open head injury, the most severe form. Whiplash is likely to cause a form of TBI that injures the brainstem as well as the cerebral cortex.
Traumatic brain injury, no matter how mild or severe, can cause a variety of complications and have health effects that are not TBI in and of themselves but that result from it. Symptoms are dependent on the type of TBI (diffuse or localized) and the part of the brain that is affected. Symptoms are also dependent on the severity of the injury.
Common long-term symptoms of TBI include loss of appropriate social behavior, deficits in social judgment, cognitive changes, especially problems with attention, processing speed, and executive functioning. Cognitive and social deficits have long-term consequences for the daily lives of people with TBI, but can be improved with appropriate rehabilitation. Because brain injuries speed up the aging of the brain, many people don’t realize a concussion experienced years ago can lead to early dementia.
TBIs and concussions cause a host of cognitive and emotional problems for the victim. These symptoms include such things as behavioral changes, mood swings, confusion, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention or thinking. PTSD typically occurs with head injuries. Learning to handle the mood swings, the unpredictable outbursts of anger, the anxiety and depression that inevitably rob one of joy and ease in social situations are challenging tasks for even the most determined. Patience and perseverance are demanded at a time when they are most lacking. The support needed challenges both the receiver and the giver.
Caregivers will benefit from counseling to develop increased coping skills. Victims will benefit from learning how to manage their symptoms of PTSD.
Brain wave patterns resulting from traumatic brain injury and concussion show spikes and slow waves. The more severe the injury, the more plentiful the spikes. Groups of spikes, called clusters, are seen in very severe injuries or when there has been more than one injury.
Spikes occur at a slower frequency than “normal” brain waves and cause delays in the communication of information between the lobes and structures of the brain. This delay is responsible for many of the symptoms that plague victims of traumatic brain injury.
A brain wave evaluation will readily reveal the spikes and slow waves caused by TBI. Neurofeedback training to reduce spikes and slow wave activity will reduce symptoms and recover function.
Brain wave training is one of the most compelling examples of the body’s ability to self-regulate and bring itself back into balance. It provides individuals the opportunity to participate in their own healing process.