A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a complex injury caused by sudden trauma to the brain. TBI can occur from any strong, forceful blow to the head, such as a car accident, sports injury, bomb explosion or falling from a roof.

Although its symptoms vary considerably, and run from mild to severe, TBI is taken very seriously, as any damage to the brain can affect a person’s entire ability to function and even change one’s personality.

TBIs are typically categorized into mild and severe. In a mild TBI, also known as a concussion, a person often does not lose consciousness at all, or if they do, it is only for a few seconds or minutes. When loss of consciousness is 30 minutes or longer, however, the injury is categorized as a severe TBI.

The term “mild TBI” may be misleading, however, as “mild” refers to the severity of the initial physical trauma and not the consequences. In fact, a mild TBI can be quite disabling.

Other symptoms of a TBI may include dizziness, headache, vomiting, dilation of one or both pupils, slurred speech, fatigue, confusion, convulsions or a change in mood or sleep patterns.

Treatment for TBI depends on its severity. Many patients with severe TBI require surgery and long-term rehabilitation.

Example: After the football game, Steve felt extremely dizzy, tired and confused. His coach suspected TBI and called the paramedics.