A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat, with a broad spectrum of physical and psychological symptoms, partly due to how they evolve over time. Some TBI symptoms aren’t immediately apparent, appearing days and even weeks after the incident. Others change over time, for better or worse. Sometimes symptoms come and go.
It’s important to understand that concussions are different from TBIs. Concussions are usually the result of milder trauma and the effects typically fade over time.
The effects of a TBI depend on where on the head the trauma took place. Here are a few possible long-term outcomes for traumatic brain injuries.
Left side injury
Trauma to this area can result in problems with logic, speech and understanding other people. A left side injury can make reading and writing difficult, impair planning and organization and even change someone’s speech pattern.
A left-side injury affects physical ability on the right side of the body. This can include general weakness, lifting an arm or moving fingers and walking difficulties due to balance issues.
Right side injury
An injury to this part of the brain can harm processing of visual information, spatial abilities and the capacity to perform tasks that were once second nature. Other symptoms include trouble with facial recognition, imagination and musical abilities. Patients may have trouble with abstract language situations like non-verbal cues, humor and metaphors.
Trauma to the right side affect attention and concentration. Without the ability to filter out less important information, patients may not be able to drive or follow conversations. Memory problems are also common, affecting both old and new memories.
The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, with similar symptoms stated above.
Other long-term effects
The list of lasting TBI symptoms is vast. Here are a few more:
- Executive function issues (slow to make decisions, speak and/or act)
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Mood swings
- Trouble sleeping
If you suffer a blow to the head, depending on the severity, you may not need to see a doctor right away, but you should closely monitor yourself for changes to your physical and mental facilities for a few weeks. If you suffer a serious blow, see a doctor as soon as possible, even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms.