Traumatic brain injury is a medical emergency. It requires abrupt treatment and further monitoring as there are a lot of factors to watch out for depending on the severity of the head injury.
Doctors need to act quickly. Assessing the patient when he comes in for treatment is a must to provide the best care and treatment. They need to check if the patient is able to speak coherently, follow and comprehend directions, and move his limbs.
Injury Assessment by A Trauma Doctor
For mild traumatic brain injury, the treatment begins upon arrival in the emergency room. The assessment will be done by the trauma doctor. They will need information such as how the injury took place, if the patient was conscious or lost consciousness. They also need to observe the patient’s alertness and ability to speak or move.
Glasgow Coma Scale
Glasgow coma scale is also used to determine the patient’s level of consciousness. The perfect score for GCS is 15. If the patient has a high score, it indicates a less severe brain injury. On the other hand, if the patient has a low score, it means there is a high probability of a severe head injury.
During the course of assessment, a Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan may also be ordered by the doctor. This test is performed to check if there are any fractures in the skull, or a presence of bleeding in the brain, contusions, hematoma or swelling of the brain tissue.
Another test can also be ordered which is the Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI. It uses radio waves to create a more detailed view of the brain. This is usually done when the person’s condition gets better or if the symptoms do not improve after the initial treatment.
Once the doctor has administered the initial treatment and observation, patient may be able to return to their normal routine. Pain medications are prescribed to lessen the pain during the injury. Patients and family members are also advised to monitor for symptoms and to attend follow checkups.
Critical Care for Severe Brain Injury
A patient with severe brain injury will have to be treated extensively. Upon arrival in the emergency, assessment will be done. The trauma doctor will need to check the patient’s ABCs. This stands for Airway, Breathing and Circulation. Once established, the patient will need to undergo surgery for the injuries sustained and to prevent further damage.
After surgery, the patient will be closely monitored for any untoward signs and symptoms that may occur. He may be monitored in a special care unit so they can observe and assess his condition. Oftentimes, the patient may be put in a coma with the help of medications to lessen the pressure in the brain and to help the brain to recover quickly.
Once the patient’s condition is stable, he may be endorsed to a sub-acute rehabilitation unit for further treatment . During this stage, the health care providers may advise to continue treatment and therapy by the family or caregiver.
Role of the Family
The family serves a vital role in the patient’s recovery. They can provide physical and emotional support to the patient during and after his stay in the hospital.
They also provide the patient with encouragement during the therapy. In more severe cases, they become the primary caregivers if the patient will have lifetime disability.
The patient and the family are also advised to seek counseling to cope with the pressures of taking care of a traumatic brain injury survivor. They can join support groups and speak with a counselor. They can also take breaks once in a while.
A case manager and a social worker will be working closely with the family to provide care. They can also assist in the coordination of the health care providers needed for the patient’s recovery from brain injury.