Mild traumatic brain injuries usually require no treatment other than rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. You should to be monitored closely at home, and follow up with your doctor if your symptoms persist, get worse, or you develop new symptoms.
Moderate to severe brain and spine injuries require emergency care. The goal is to stabilize the patient, immobilize head and spine movements, and minimize secondary damage due to bleeding, inflammation, or reduced oxygen supply to the brain.
Medications to limit secondary damage to the brain may include:
- Used to reduce the amount of fluid in tissues and increase urine output. Given intravenously to people with traumatic brain injury, diuretics help reduce pressure inside the brain.
- Anti-seizure drugs
- May be prescribed during the first week to avoid any additional brain damage that might be caused by a seizure.
- Coma-inducing drugs
- Used to put people into temporary comas because a comatose brain needs less oxygen to function. This is especially helpful if blood vessels, compressed by increased pressure in the brain, are unable to deliver the usual amount of nutrients and oxygen to brain cells.
Emergency surgery may be needed to minimize additional damage to brain tissues. Surgery may be used to:
- Remove clotted blood (hematomas). Bleeding outside or within the brain can result in a collection of clotted blood (hematoma) that puts pressure on the brain and damages brain tissues.
- Repair skull fractures.
- Open a window in the skull to relieve pressure inside the skull by draining accumulated cerebral spinal fluid or creating a window in the skull that provides more room for swollen tissues.
Patients with significant brain injury will require rehabilitation. You may need to relearn basic skills such as walking or talking. The overall goal is to improve your ability to function at home and in the community.
UT Southwestern’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program is located in Zale Lipshy University Hospital, where care is delivered by a dedicated and highly trained team. Because the program is a hospital-based facility, patients have on-site access to neurological rehabilitation and all medical and surgical specialties – including radiology with X-ray, ultrasound, CT scans, and MRIs.
It is the mission of the program to help patients with traumatic brain injuries achieve the highest level of physical, functional, and cognitive independence and to be able to adjust to their social environment.