The skull is box-like and holds the brain together so tightly that it cannot move around. It can be damaged by rapid activity. The swelling of the brain tissue occurs due to an injury and accumulation of fluid, causing the brain tissue to fill more space in the skull. This process is referred to as edema. The swollen tissue of the brain pushes the other parts of the brain aside, causing brain damage.
Increased head pressure interferes with the ability of the brain to perform all of its essential functions. Increased intracranial pressure that fails to respond to medication is a sign of brain damage that may be permanent and can be fatal. Some conditions or illnesses like stroke may also cause brain damage. Brain damage may also occur immediately following an injury due to swelling and bleeding.
Brain injury may also lead to a coma, which is characterized by a long period of unconsciousness. The eyes remain closed, and you may not be able to talk or communicate with the unconscious patient. In some cases, the patient does not move at all. The duration of a coma varies since some people experience it for just a few days while others may take several months.
Waking up from a coma is usually a slow process, as patients slowly begin to learn about past events and the people around them as they recover. Factors like the extent, location, and severity of the damage affect the degree of recovery (how well he or she returns to normalcy) of the patient. Some people recover with a combination of psychological, physical, and mental difficulties, and thus needs special care and attention. Others fail to progress beyond the initial or primary responses. Those who recover and resume full awareness are considered very lucky.
How to Care for Those Affected by a Brain Injury
Mild traumatic brain injuries may require no treatment, but over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers may be used to manage headaches. However, patients should be monitored closely for persistent or worsening symptoms. Follow-up doctor appointments are very crucial. In contrast, moderate to severe traumatic injuries to the brain may require emergency care, including an adequate supply of oxygen and blood, maintenance of stable blood pressure, and more. Doctors will also focus on preventing additional damage caused by bleeding, inflammation, or insufficient oxygen supply to the patient’s brain.
Healthcare professionals recommend that family and friends continue to talk to the unconscious patient since it is possible that they can still hear or even understand. This issue is understandably debatable since some people think they hear whereas others believe otherwise. Comatose patients seem calm when familiar music is played, or familiar voices are heard. However, it is difficult to prove whether these patients can hear because they rarely remember the events that happened when they were still in a coma.
Some medical problems that coma patients may develop as a result of restricted movement including skin sores, blood clots, infections, and stiff joints. Some patients who have awakened can still be in a semi-conscious state.
A brain injury can have devastating effects on the patient, including a coma and fluid accumulation. However, seeking immediate medical attention could help treat or manage these problems.