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What is a traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), a distinct type of acquired brain injury (ABI), is a form of brain injury that an individual sustains as a result of some form of impact or ‘blow’ to the head. TBIs are the result of events that happen outside the body, and can have a number of different causes, including:

  • Falls
  • Road traffic accidents
  • Assault or violence
  • Sports injuries
  • Explosions or other combat injuries

There are three types of TBI:

  • Closed head TBIs – this is the most common form of TBI and is characterised by an individual suffering a head injury that does not result in their skull breaking or their brain being exposed, i.e. the head is ‘closed’. An example of this may be when a car stops suddenly during a road traffic accident, resulting in your body being jolted and your brain bumping against the inside of your skull
  • Open/penetrating TBIs – this form of TBI is less common than closed head brain injuries, and is characterised by an individual’s skull cracking and their brain being exposed, i.e. the head is ‘open’. This may happen as a result of a collision or accident, or can also occur due to an explosion or a gunshot wound
  • Crushing TBIs – this is the least common form of TBI and refers to the injury that is sustained as a result of an individual’s head being caught between two hard objects, i.e. the head is ‘crushed’

Another type of TBI, known as hypoxic brain injury, occurs when the brain is starved of oxygen due to events that are happening outside the body. Examples of this may be drowning or being suffocated in some way.

What are the symptoms of a TBI?
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