A traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the workplace results from a jarring blow or jolt to the head or body. A sharp object penetrating brain tissue can also cause a TBI. This type of brain injury causes wide-ranging physical and psychological effects. Signs or symptoms may show up immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later. Traumatic brain injuries are emergencies that medical professionals need to assess quickly to avoid worsening complications.
Mild symptoms of a TBI include loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes, being dazed or confused, headache, fatigue, or nausea. Moderate to severe TBI symptoms can include any of the symptoms of mild injury along with a loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours, repeated vomiting or nausea, weakness or numbness in fingers and toes, slurred speech, and loss of coordination.
Imaging tests that diagnose TBIs include CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Because tissue swelling from a TBI can increase pressure inside the skull and cause additional brain damage, a doctor may insert a probe, known as an intracranial pressure monitor, through the skull to observe this pressure.
Mild injuries usually require rest and over-the-counter pain medications to treat a headache, and someone with a mild TBI should be monitored closely at home for any persistent, worsening or new symptoms. Moderate to severe injuries require emergency care.