In our last blog post we covered the topic of types of acquired brain injury. These types of injuries can occur from trauma or disease. The elderly are susceptible to acquired brain injuries due to their age, their weakened immune systems, their risks of developing certain health issues, and their risks for falls. It is important to always be on the lookout for an acquired brain injury in order to get medical treatment immediately. The sooner someone receives treatment, the less damage to the brain there will be. To be on the lookout for an acquired brain injury, it is vital that you know the signs and symptoms. This article will go over the symptoms, treatment, prognosis and prevention of acquired brain injuries.
The symptoms of an acquired brain injury will vary greatly depending on what caused the injury and where in the brain the injury occurred. However, all types of acquired brain injuries will lead to a loss of some physical functions and reduction of mental abilities. Typically, people with traumatic acquired brain injuries will suffer from memory loss, speech problems, poverty of movement and confusion. People with non-traumatic brain injuries may deal with confusion, difficultly expressing themselves, paralysis in parts of their body and difficulty keeping their thoughts to themselves. However, it is always important to remember that no two brain injuries are exactly the same. If, at any time, you believe that you or someone you love is acting weird or has loss a bit of their ability to function properly on a daily basis, it is best to speak with a doctor immediately. If an acquired brain injury goes untreated for very long, it could result in permanent loss of function and even death.
As mentioned previously, no two brain injuries are the exact same, and because of this, no two treatment plans will be the same. Even so, brain injury treatments all tend to go through a similar process. Patients will begin their treatment plan after they have been diagnosed with an acquired brain injury. Initial treatment will help doctors determine the severity of the brain injury and determine if the patient lost any of their pertinent functions. Next, doctors can treat some brain injuries with medication. If this is the case, then medication will be started while the patient is still in the hospital. Patients with brain injuries often stay in the intensive care unit or in a neurology trauma unit where they can be monitored closely. Once they have recovered enough to leave the hospital, patients can go to a long term care center, a short term care center, or go straight home. Patients will go to a long term facility if they have suffered a severe loss of physical and mental functions and need massive amount of help with their everyday activities including getting dressed, eating, and going to the bathroom. At long term care facilities patients will learn how to care for themselves and try to regain back some of their physical and mental functions. If they do regain back some of their physical and mental functions, then they may eventually be able to go home. If not, then they may live in the long term care facility permanently. Patients who have suffered very little loss of physical and mental functions and only need help with some things such as dressing themselves and staying balanced while walking may be moved to a short term facility. These facilities are only meant to keep patients for less than one month. Patients who suffered very little to no loss of physical functioning, and who may only have suffered from slight memory loss or confusion can often go straight home from the hospital. These patients may still need a home care aid or nurse to stop by and check on them frequently though in order to ensure they are taking their medications and eating properly.
Brain injuries are difficult to deal with, but fortunately the brain is a very resilient organ. It can bounce back from many injuries. Unless the brain injury is very severe, with rehabilitation, the right medications, and hard work it is possible to recover. Patients who suffer from brain injuries need to visit their doctors regularly in order to keep their treatment plans on track. At these doctors’ appointments, doctors who specialize in brain injuries can determine your progress and determine your prognosis. Since brain injuries are so unique, your prognosis could change slightly each time you see your doctor. For this reason, it is vital to follow your doctor’s instructions completely and work hard to regain all of your lost physical and mental functions. With hard work, your brain can learn to make new connections and your prognosis can improve.
Preventing acquired brain injuries is the best option for keeping yourself healthy. If you are in the elderly population, then it is important to realize that you are at a higher risk for having a stroke and developing certain diseases that could lead to non-traumatic brain injuries. To reduce your risks of having a stroke, it is key to exercise on a regular basis and eat properly. Always aim to exercise at least twenty minutes per day, three times per week. The physical activity will help keep your body strong and your mind sharp. Eating well is also important. Always strive to eat fruits and veggies each day and shy away from processed foods. Eating well will help reduce your risk for stroke and help strengthen your immune system. To reduce your risk of developing certain diseases that could result in non-traumatic brain injury, it is vital that your immune system stay strong. The stronger your immune system is, the less of a chance you have developing viruses or infections that could lead to encephalitis.
Acquired brain injuries are always a medical emergency. If you or someone you love has developed any of the symptoms above, then it is vital you speak with a doctor immediately. It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to brain injuries, because at their worst, they could cause a massive reduction in physical functioning and mental ability. If you have already suffered from an acquired brain injury, then follow your doctor’s orders strictly to help you regain back any physical and mental functions you may have lost due to your brain injury.