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Brain injuries: Different patients have different experiences

Traumatic brain injuries are interesting, because they vary significantly among patients. For some, their injuries may resolve quickly, and they can get on with their lives with relatively few side effects. For others, it's a lifetime of recovery ahead of them.

When medical providers assess those who have suffered brain injuries, the first thing they have to do is rate them on the Glasgow Coma Scale. This gives medical providers a point of reference for how the patient was when they arrived at the hospital or clinic and how far they've come during treatment. Higher scores on this scale mean that the injuries are less severe.

What happens immediately after an injury?

After a quick assessment, the patient will need to be examined to determine if they're receiving enough oxygen, if their blood supply is good and if their blood pressure is appropriate. Those with severe injuries to the head may have additional injuries elsewhere. In the emergency room, the focus will always be on limiting secondary damage to the brain and reducing inflammation.

After determining how severe the initial injury is, doctors may need to insert a probe in the skull. While this can be a shocking thing to see, family members should be informed that this a normal technique of measuring intracranial pressure. By measuring the pressure inside the skull, it's possible to see if the brain is still swelling and if additional damage is being done to the brain. If it is, then the medical providers can take steps to help relieve that swelling and reduce the risk of further damage to the brain.

Do medications help once someone has a brain injury?

There are medications that may help after a person suffers from a brain injury. Diuretics, for example, reduce the amount of water in the tissues. Without this fluid, the pressure in the brain begins to decrease.

Medical providers may also chemically induce a coma. Temporary comas help, because the brain needs less oxygen to work correctly while in this rest state. This can reduce the risk of damage to the brain from a lack of oxygen, especially if there are damaged blood vessels that need time to heal.

Overall, patients are always going to be different, but there are treatments that will be given to help prevent the spread of damage after an accident. That way, a patient has the best chance of recovering with fewer long-term effects.

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