Is a Stroke a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Article by Moody Neuro

Experiencing a brain injury is a harrowing experience that can profoundly impact a person’s life. Depending on the severity and location of the damage, individuals may experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Long-term challenges are expected, and patients may require extended medical treatment to regain function.

One of the most common health incidents relating to the brain is a Cerebrovascular Accident (CVA) or as it is most commonly known, a stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stroke is the leading cause of death for Americans, with incidents occurring every 40 seconds. Furthermore, it is also the top contributor to long-term disability in the USA as it reduces mobility in more than half of its survivors.

Is a stroke a traumatic brain injury? While both conditions can damage the brain, there are some key differences between the two.

Below, we explore the different types of brain injury and examine factors that make them distinct from one another.

Types of Brain Injuries

Injuries to the brain are not as straightforward as people assume. There are different types and subtypes that exist, with each requiring a different rehabilitation approach. Knowing the specific type of brain injury a person has suffered allows medical professionals to determine the best course of action for treatment. In addition, it also gives the patient an idea of the challenges they are about to face due to their condition.

Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)

All brain injuries acquired after birth fall into the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) category. The damage in ABIs is a result of an alteration of neuronal activity, affecting the functional ability of the brain’s nerve cells. The severity of an ABI can range from mild to severe and may have lasting effects on the patient’s physical, cognitive and emotional functioning.

ABI is further divided into two subtypes: Traumatic and Non-Traumatic.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a type of ABI caused by a sudden blow to the head or a sudden motion violent enough to cause damage to brain tissues. TBIs are either closed (non-penetrating) or open (penetrating). According to the CDC, TBI is a major cause of death and disability, with most cases resulting from:

  • Falls
  • Fire-arm related incidents
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Assaults

While TBI affects people of all ages, the effects on children and older adults are more detrimental. Brain damage in children disrupts their development and limits their ability to participate in physical activities like sports. At the same time, TBI in older adults leads to more hospitalization and deaths than other age groups.

Symptoms of TBI vary depending on the severity of the damage but often include headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory loss, mood changes and difficulty with speech. It is crucial for individuals who have experienced a traumatic head injury to seek medical attention as soon as possible to prevent further damage and guarantee the best possible outcome.

Non-Traumatic Brain Injury (nTBI)

Non-traumatic brain injuries are damage that is not a result of external factors. The most common causes are:

  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm
  • Tumors
  • Seizure
  • Electric shocks
  • Neurotoxic poisoning (i.e., lead exposure, carbon monoxide exposure)
  • Infectious diseases (i.e., meningitis, encephalitis)

nTBIs are harder to detect and prevent since internal factors cause them. Symptoms are categorized into four types, physical, emotional, perceptual and cognitive, making possible conditions even more challenging to pinpoint. Still, it’s crucial to be aware of them so individuals can seek immediate help when they feel an indication of a nTBI.

Physical Emotional Perceptual Cognitive
  • Severe headaches
  • Paralysis
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent seizures
  • Insomnia
  • Speech difficulties
  • Loss of concentration
  • Memory loss
  • Short attention span
  • A decline in decision-making abilities
  • Impairment of rational thinking
  • Aggressiveness
  • Irritability
  • Impulsiveness
  • Sluggishness
  • Pain sensitivity
  • Disorientation to vision, smell, hearing and taste

By educating oneself on the various types of brain injuries, individuals can take steps to prevent them from occurring. For example, people can take precautions when participating in demanding physical activities by knowing that a concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that can arise from a blow to the head.

In addition, being knowledgeable about the various brain injuries allows individuals to spot symptoms early so they can seek medical attention immediately. This is vital since early diagnosis and treatment significantly improve outcomes.

Types of Brain Injuries

Image Source: Brain Injury Association of America

Questions Answered

Is a stroke a traumatic brain injury?

While stroke is classified under Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), it does not belong to the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) classification since it can’t be a direct result of a blow to the head. Instead, stroke is considered a Non-Traumatic Brain Injury (nTBI) because it originates from internal factors.

What is a Stroke?

Now that we’ve clarified the query “Is stroke a TBI?” let us delve into what stroke really is.

A stroke transpires when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissues of oxygen. This happens when a clot hinders a blood vessel or a brain vessel ruptures. The damage caused by a stroke has a wide range of effects on the body, depending on the location and severity of the attack.

The effects of a stroke can be temporary or permanent and often include paralysis on one side of the body, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, vision problems and cognitive impairment. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. If you or someone around you is experiencing this, contact 911 immediately.

Causes and Symptoms of Stroke

Stoke has two main types, ischemic and hemorrhagic, with different causes and symptoms.

Ischemic Stroke

Ischemic stroke occurs when a clot blocks an artery, leading to a lack of oxygen in the brain. This is the more common type of stroke, accounting for around 85% of all incidents. The blood clots form in areas where arteries have narrowed over time due to age and fatty deposits known as plaques from cholesterol.

While arteries naturally get narrower as people age, the following factors may speed up the process:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Smoking

Symptoms manifest themselves depending on where the blood clot is located. Once the affected area doesn’t get enough blood flow, they stop working and may permanently lose any abilities controlled by that particular area of the brain.

Ischemic stroke symptoms may include one or several of the following:

  • One-sided paralysis or weakness
  • Loss of muscle control on one side of the face
  • Loss, either total or partial, of vision, smell, hearing, touch and taste
  • Loss of coordination
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Emotional instability
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Coma

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Hemorrhagic stroke transpires when a vessel in the brain ruptures, causing bleeding in the affected area. This type is less common, accounting for around 15% of all cases.

High blood pressure is the primary cause of hemorrhagic strokes, but it can also be the result of the following:

  • Aneurysm
  • Head injuries
  • Blood vessel abnormalities
  • Brain tumor
  • Blood disorders

The symptoms vary depending on the location of the bleeding. Common indications of a hemorrhagic stroke include:

  • Severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of consciousness

How to Reduce the Risk of Stroke

A stroke is a deadly brain attack that may lead to permanent impairment or death. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prevent such incidents from occurring. The CDC released the following measures that significantly lower the likelihood of strokes.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

  • Keep A Healthy Weight: Being overweight increases the risk of strokes.
  • Eat A Healthy Diet: Avoid eating foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fat to prevent high cholesterol, which is a primary stroke risk factor.
  • Exercise Regularly: Physical activity helps you stay at a healthy weight. For adults, it’s recommended to get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise weekly. Actions you can do include hiking, jogging and brisk walking.
  • Limit Alcohol Intake: Alcohol raises blood pressure, increasing the stroke risk.

Control Health Conditions

  • Check Cholesterol: It’s crucial to check your cholesterol levels every five years to ensure it’s within the normal range.
  • Control Blood Pressure: Check your blood pressure regularly since hypertension usually doesn’t have symptoms.
  • Treat Existing Conditions: If you have existing medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease, stick to your doctor’s recommended diet and specific lifestyle changes.
  • Take Your Medications: Follow your medication plan religiously. Never stop taking prescriptions without talking to your healthcare provider.

Is It Possible To Fully Recover From Stroke?

With proper medication and rehabilitation therapy, it is possible to recover from a stroke fully. Medications such as blood thinners and clot-busting drugs prevent further damage to the brain and reduce the risk of future incidents. Rehabilitation therapy, on the other hand, helps patients regain lost abilities and relearn how to perform everyday tasks.

By working with a team of healthcare professionals and following a comprehensive rehabilitation plan, stroke survivors can make significant progress in their recovery and regain their independence.

Get Personalized Care at Moody Neurorehabilitation

Moody Neurorehabilitation offers personalized care for stroke patients to help them improve their quality of life. The facility’s multidisciplinary team of experts works together to create a customized treatment plan that addresses each patient’s unique needs. From physical rehabilitation to speech therapy, patients receive comprehensive care that helps them recover and adjust to life after a stroke.

If you or a loved one has experienced a stroke, consider seeking care at Moody Neurorehabilitation to receive the support and guidance needed for a successful recovery.