When an injury to the head from a serious blow or impact occurs and disrupts the natural and normal functioning of the brain, a traumatic brain injury can result. This condition is also common when something pierces the head, breaking through the cranium and penetrating brain tissue. And when the brain tissue is damaged a host of symptoms can appear such as serious changes in mood or behavior, cognitive disabilities and even a persistent and vegetative state. A traumatic brain injury can also be life-threatening or fatal depending on the severity of the damage.

It’s estimated that nearly half of all traumatic brain injuries result from automobile accidents, and those in the military who are deployed in combat situations are much more at risk from developing the condition due to the nature of their environment.

Whereas symptoms such as a loss of consciousness may appear immediately after the accident, in some cases signs that a traumatic brain injury has occurred may not be seen until days after a blow or trauma to the head. Sufferers may exhibit cerebrospinal fluid flowing from their ears or nose; balance and coordination problems; slowed breathing and irregular blood pressure; auditory and vision problems; generalized confusion and cognitive issues; partial or complete paralysis; headaches; speech difficulties; and bladder control problems.

A brain injury of this type is often obvious and should be examined by a medical professional immediately. A physician will conduct a physical exam to reveal any problems or issues with the basic functions of the body along with mental evaluations to determine if brain functions have been impacted. Imaging is also most likely called for, with CT scans and MRIs allowing doctors to see the extent of the injury to the brain and any bleeding that may be occurring.

For severe cases treatment should be immediate: surgery to relieve pressure on the brain from blood clots within the head and post-surgical monitoring to watch for complications from the surgery or additional symptoms of brain trauma.