The most common causes of TBI which result in ER visits include slip-and-fall accidents, blows to the head, and automobile accidents. Abrupt forces which jolt the brain violently within the skull, such as shock waves from explosions, which can also cause TBI. Traumatic brain injury can also result from bullet wounds or other injuries which penetrate the skull and brain.
Doctors characterize traumatic brain injury as mild, moderate, or severe depending on whether the injury causes unconsciousness, how long it lasts, and other symptoms. Although most traumatic brain injuries are characterized as mild because they’re not considered life-threatening, even a mild TBI can have serious and long-lasting effects if left untreated.
Resulting from an impact to the head which interrupts brain function, TBI is a threat to cognitive health in two ways:
- The effects of traumatic brain injury, which may be long-lasting or even permanent, can include unconsciousness, inability to recall the event, confusion, difficulty learning new information, trouble speaking, unsteadiness, lack of coordination, and health issues associated with vision or hearing, among other common symptoms.
- TBI may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, years after the injury takes place.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2.8 million TBI-associated ER visits, hospitalizations, and deaths occurred in 2013, the latest year for which information is available. The purpose of the following article is to discuss traumatic brain injury (TBI) and its connection with Alzheimer’s disease and other health issues.
Traumatic Brain Injury Causes
Slip-and-fall accidents are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury, where falls pose a potentially serious risk factor for older adults. According to a CDC special report evaluating data from several federal agencies, approximately 56,000 seniors are hospitalized every year as a result of head injuries sustained in falls. A serious TBI from a slip-and-fall accident may ultimately result in long-term cognitive changes and reduced ability to function as well as overall mood changes.
About 775,000 older adults have traumatic brain injury-related disability. Measures to reduce the risk of falls include:
- Using a walker or other assistive device to compensate for mobility problems, muscle weakness or poor balance.
- Having your vision checked regularly and using glasses or contact lenses that correct for changes.
- Working with your doctor to watch for medication side effects or interactions among drugs you’re taking.
- Avoiding household hazards, such as clutter, loose rugs or poor lighting.
Automobile accidents are another common cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI). People can reduce the risk of being involved in an auto accident by keeping their vehicle in good condition, following the rules of the road, and buckling their seat belt. Wearing a helmet and when biking, inline skating, or playing contact sports can also help protect the head from TBI.
The severity of symptoms for traumatic brain injuries largely depends on whether the injury is mild, moderate, or severe. Mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), also known as a concussion, can either not cause unconsciousness or can cause unconsciousness which lasts for 30 minutes or less. Mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) symptoms may include:
- Inability to remember the traumatic event immediately before or up to 24 hours after
- Confusion and disorientation
- Difficulty learning new information
- Blurry vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Ringing in the ears
- Trouble speaking coherently
- Mood changes or changes in sleeping patterns
These symptoms will commonly manifest at the time of the TBI or soon after, however, these may sometimes not develop till several days or even weeks following the traumatic event. Mild TBI symptoms are generally temporary and these will clear up within hours, days, or weeks following the traumatic even, however, they can occasionally last several months or longer.
Moderate traumatic brain injury can cause unconsciousness which lasts more than 30 minutes but less than 24 hours and severe traumatic brain injury can cause unconsciousness for more than 24 hours. Symptoms of moderate and severe traumatic brain injury are similar to those of mild traumatic brain injury but these are more serious and longer-lasting.
In all types of TBI, cognitive changes are the most common symptoms. The ability to learn and remember new information is also frequently affected. Other commonly affected cognitive skills include the ability to pay attention, organize thoughts, plan effective strategies for completing tasks and activities, and/or make sound judgments. More severe changes in cognitive skills may develop years after the traumatic event where the person may appear to have recovered from the previous TBI.
Evaluations performed by healthcare professionals to help diagnose traumatic brain injury (TBI) generally include:
- Questions about the traumatic event
- Analysis of the person’s level of consciousness and confusion
- Neurological tests to analyze memory and thinking, vision, hearing, touch, balance, and reflexes
Let your doctor know if you are taking any drugs and/or medications, especially blood thinners, because they can increase the chance of complications. Also, inform your healthcare professional if you drink alcohol or take illicit drugs.
Depending on the cause of the TBI and the severity of symptoms, brain imaging with computed tomography (CT) may be necessary to determine if there’s swelling or bleeding in the brain. If you experience a traumatic brain injury, it should be noted in your permanent medical record and mentioned whenever familiarizing a new doctor with your medical history.
Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment
The most serious traumatic brain injuries commonly require specialized hospital care and can also need several months of rehabilitation. Most traumatic brain injuries are mild and can be treated with either a short hospital stay for observation or at-home monitoring followed by outpatient rehabilitation, if necessary. Treatment of dementia in a person with a history of traumatic brain injuries varies depending on the type of dementia diagnosed. Treatment strategies for Alzheimer’s disease or another type of dementia are ultimately the same for people with and without a history of traumatic brain injury.
Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia which may occur as a long-term result of traumatic brain injury (TBI) are progressive health issues which worsen over time. As with all types of dementia, they can affect a person’s quality of life, shorten lifespan, and complicate the effort to manage other health issues effectively. However, because other types of dementia, such as CTE, are considerably new for researchers and healthcare professionals, clinical guidelines for diagnosis and treatment do not exist. Several research studies are underway to gain further insight into the patterns of TBI and Alzheimer’s disease which may be implicated in CTE and to develop strategies for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
As previously mentioned in the article above, Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia which may occur as a long-term result of traumatic brain injury (TBI) are progressive health issues which may ultimately worsen over time. As with all types of dementia, these can affect quality of life, shorten life span, and complicate the effort to manage other health issues effectively. It’s essential for patients and healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat a traumatic brain injury to prevent further health issues in the future, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
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According to research studies, TBI is ultimately associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Doctors commonly characterize traumatic brain injury as mild, moderate, or severe depending on whether the previous traumatic event causes unconsciousness, how long it lasts, and other well-known symptoms. The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal and nervous health issues as well as functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topic Discussion: Chronic Pain
Sudden pain is a natural response of the nervous system which helps to demonstrate possible injury. By way of instance, pain signals travel from an injured region through the nerves and spinal cord to the brain. Pain is generally less severe as the injury heals, however, chronic pain is different than the average type of pain. With chronic pain, the human body will continue sending pain signals to the brain, regardless if the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last for several weeks to even several years. Chronic pain can tremendously affect a patient’s mobility and it can reduce flexibility, strength, and endurance.
Neural Zoomer Plus for Neurological Disease
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate neurological diseases. The Neural ZoomerTM Plus is an array of neurological autoantibodies which offers specific antibody-to-antigen recognition. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM Plus is designed to assess an individual’s reactivity to 48 neurological antigens with connections to a variety of neurologically related diseases. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM Plus aims to reduce neurological conditions by empowering patients and physicians with a vital resource for early risk detection and an enhanced focus on personalized primary prevention.
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