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A non-traumatic brain injury (nTBI) refers to brain damage caused by factors other than external trauma. These causes can include exposure to certain toxins, complications of an infection, or a symptom of a medical condition. A stroke is usually the most common cause of an nTBI, and understanding the signs and symptoms is necessary for implementing prevention measures and assessing treatment options.
A brain injury can have life-altering consequences for patients, impacting their physical well-being, cognitive functions, and emotional state. The implications of these injuries can significantly affect a person’s ability to perform daily tasks, maintain relationships, pursue their careers, or enjoy their hobbies.
Coping with these new circumstances is a challenging and ongoing process. However, understanding the nature of the injury and its underlying cause can help patients acquire the best treatment to provide the best outcome.
An nTBI is a complex medical condition that can significantly alter brain function and impact everyday functioning. It is caused by factors not involving external physical force to the head. These causes can include an illness, oxygen deprivation, aneurysms, metabolic disorders, or cardiac arrest, among many others.
It’s essential to differentiate nTBI from traumatic brain injury (TBI) as both types of brain damage are distinct in their etiologies (causation) and clinical presentations (treatment). While nTBIs arise internally, TBIs result from external forces impacting the head, leading to physical damage to the brain tissue. These can be events like a blow to the head, sports injury, or impact from a vehicular accident.
Implementing the proper diagnostic techniques is crucial in accurately diagnosing nTBI and developing appropriate treatment strategies for the injury. Comprehensive medical assessments of the condition can include taking detailed patient histories, neurological examinations, and advanced imaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans.
By applying the appropriate diagnostic procedure, healthcare professionals can provide a timely and precise diagnosis of the injury and its underlying cause. This enables them to implement targeted interventions and rehabilitative measures that enhance patient outcomes and improve their overall quality of life.
A non-traumatic brain injury can be characterized by a range of symptoms that can be difficult to detect. This is due to the fact that most of these symptoms are attributable to other conditions, while the possibility of a brain injury is almost never considered.
These symptoms need careful attention to provide a timely diagnosis for effective injury management. Several symptoms can be categorized as physical, emotional, cognitive, and perceptual symptoms:
Physical symptoms include:
Emotional symptoms include:
Cognitive symptoms include:
Perceptual symptoms result from a portion of the brain being affected by the injury, which alters the patient’s senses and changes how they perceive stimuli.
Diagnosing an nTBI can be challenging as these symptoms might overlap with other neurological or psychological conditions. In many cases, the possibility of a non-traumatic brain injury may be considered late due to the absence of visible external injuries.
Nevertheless, seeking medical attention is still imperative if individuals experience any or a combination of the symptoms listed above to increase the likelihood of early intervention.
nTBIs can result from a wide range of internal factors that impair the brain’s functioning. One of the most common causes of an nTBI is a stroke, which occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, resulting in tissue damage and neurological impairments. Brain tumors can also lead to functional disturbances as a result of exerted pressure on the surrounding tissue, which can impair brain function.
Other causes of an nTBI include:
The risk factors for nTBI can vary based on individual circumstances and underlying health conditions. Identifying these risk factors associated with nTBI is vital for early recognition and appropriate management. Some of these risk factors include:
Treatment for nTBIs will depend on several factors and must be tailored to the specific individual to produce the best outcome. These treatment methods can include addressing specific brain issues, treating the underlying cause, and providing supportive care, rehabilitation, and education:
Based on a patient’s condition and medical history, a physician may prescribe certain medications to treat the underlying condition causing nTBI or the symptoms that appear.
Some common types of medications used in nTBI management include:
Rehabilitation aims to improve a patient’s functional abilities, restore independence, and enhance their overall quality of life. The type of treatment they receive is tailored to the individual’s specific needs and can encompass different disciplines. Some of the most common types of rehabilitation therapies used include:
Supportive care refers to the comprehensive and compassionate approaches taken to meet the diverse needs of nTBI patients, especially those with chronic or progressive conditions. It does not directly target the underlying cause of the injury. However, it is still a critical aspect of its treatment and management.
Supportive care is given to enhance the patient’s overall well-being, comfort, and quality of life. These can be in the form of providing daily living assistance, emotional support, symptom management, palliative care, or end-of-life care.
In cases where an infection was the cause of the injury, metabolic disorder, or any other medical condition, targeted treatments can be provided to treat the underlying issue first. Addressing the main contributing factor is essential to slow down or halt the progression of the injury.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can be beneficial in managing symptoms of an nTBI. Practices like maintaining a balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise are beneficial for managing chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes, which contribute to an nTBI.
Moody Neurorehabilitation recognizes the importance of providing exceptional medical care and unwavering emotional support and guidance to nTBI patients during this challenging journey. We are committed to providing personalized care that aligns with patients’ challenges and goals.
Since 1982, Moody Neurorehabilitation has been at the forefront of brain injury treatment and patient care. Working with a multidisciplinary team of experts, we develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses each patient’s unique needs and improves their quality of life.
If you or a loved one has suffered a non-traumatic brain injury, contact us today to arrange a consultation with our experts.
Moody Neurorehabilitation Institute (Moody Neuro) provides personalized care to treat the unique challenges of brain injury with the singular purpose of achieving the best possible outcome for patients and their families.