Traumatic brain injury (TBI) refers to damage to the brain caused by an external physical force sometimes seen with a car wreck, fall, sports-related accident, or assault. A TBI is not caused by internal factors such as a stroke or tumor, and it does not include brain damage that results from prolonged lack of oxygen. It is possible to have a TBI and never lose consciousness. Traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects and may be accompanied by pain. Some signs or symptoms may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later.
Milder TBI may cause temporary dysfunction of brain cells and produce symptoms such as headache, nausea or vomiting, fatigue or drowsiness, dizziness or loss of balance, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, or memory or concentration problems. More serious cases can result in bruising, pressure on the brain, torn tissue, bleeding, brain chemistry imbalances, and other physical damage to the brain that can lead to long-term complications or death. More serious symptoms can include convulsions or seizures, dilated pupil(s), inability to wake from sleep, weakness or numbness in fingers or toes, loss of coordination, slurred speech, and profound confusion. Treatment for TBI varies depending on the extent of damage and symptoms, and it sometimes includes pain management.
UAB Spain Rehabilitation Center is home to one of only 16 nationally designated Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Programs, which are funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, and the program also serves as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) clinical trials network center. This designation recognizes UAB’s outstanding care to individuals with TBI, including emergency medical services, acute care in the hospital, and rehabilitation expertise. UAB’s program has been a TBI Model System since 1998 and is operating under a five-year grant that spans 2012-2017. UAB also maintains a TBI Information Network as a resource to promote knowledge in research, health, and quality of life for people with TBI, their families, and TBI-related professionals.
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