Brain Injury Signs and Symptoms

No two brain injuries are exactly the same, which means that the effects of brain injuries vary greatly from person to person. If you suspect traumatic brain injury or acquired brain injury, it’s important to contact the injured person’s physician or go to the emergency room immediately. In emergency situations, dial 911.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dilated pupils, or pupils of uneven size
  • Spinal fluid coming out of the ears or nose
  • Vision issues, such as blurred vision, double vision, light sensitivity, inability to move eyes, or blindness
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness
  • Respiratory failure, or problems breathing
  • Slow pulse, and slow breathing rate, with an increase in blood pressure
  • Inability or difficulty moving body part
  • Vomiting
  • Inability to respond to others, not alert
  • Sluggish, sleepy, or easily fatigued
  • Headache
  • Confusion, or difficulty with thinking skills such as memory and judgment
  • Poor attention span
  • Difficulty processing thoughts, or slowed processing speed
  • Ringing in the ears, or difficulty hearing
  • Odd emotional responses, such as increased irritability and frustration, inappropriate anger, laughing, or crying
  • Difficulty  speaking or swallowing
  • Numbness or tingling in body parts
  • Bladder and bowel control problems

Symptoms of Acquired Brain Injury

Unlike a traumatic brain injury, an acquired brain injury occurs on a cellular level within the brain, which means that instead of one area of the brain being affected - such as the one that governs speech or movement - cells throughout the entire brain are affected. Despite the difference in the type of injury, signs and symptoms of an acquired brain injury are strikingly similar to those of a traumatic brain injury. However, some signs or symptoms are experienced more frequently or are more pronounced in people with acquired brain injuries. In particular, these are:

  • Cognitive impairment when it comes to thinking skills, memory skills in particular
  • Longer time spent in a coma or vegetative state
  • More pronounced behavioral issues such as anger, hostility, combativeness, depression, restlessness, and psychosis
  • Muscle movement issues

If a person experiences the above signs or symptoms following a blow to the head or after experiencing one of the major causes of acquired brain injury, such as airway obstruction, electrical shock or lightning strike, vascular disruption, infectious disease, or toxic exposure to poisonous chemicals or gases, a physician should be seen immediately.

Brain Injury