Traumatic Brain Injury: Long-term effects, management and treatment options

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) most commonly include concussions, closed head injuries, or penetrating injuries. These injuries can result from anything between a simple blow to the head to a significant external trauma that can impact the normal function of the brain.

A TBI can have long-term physical, cognitive, behavioural, and psychological complications. Additionally, some chronic consequences of TBI include gastrointestinal dysfunction, fluid and hormonal imbalances and nerve injuries. 

Researchers have shown that many individuals with a history of TBI also suffer from comorbid mental-health conditions including major depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse. 

Clinical evaluation of TBI may include the use of Glasgow Coma Scale, neurological examination, cognitive evaluation or specialized imaging including a CT scan or MRI. 

Some of the most common symptoms of a TBI include headache, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, difficulty with concentration and memory and mood disturbances.

A naturopathic medical approach in the management of a TBI looks to correct the biological and chemical changes induced by the brain trauma. Starting with the foundations of health a naturopathic doctor’s approach in the management of a TBI may include addressing diet, and lifestyle. The aim is to achieve optimal nutrition, blood sugar regulation, implement an appropriate exercise routine, and correct sleep disturbances.

On a more biological level we look to correct the systemic effects of a TBI by supporting the nervous system, assisting proper cellular function, addressing neuroinflammation and potential circulatory concerns. As stated above the mental/emotional burden of a TBI can be significant therefore emotional support and establishing stress management techniques are also key in the management of this “polypathology” condition.


References:

Marr AL., Coronado VG., et al. Central nervous system injury surveillance data submission standards. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2004.

Ahmed S., Venigalla H., Madhuri H., et al. Traumatic Brain Injury and Neuropsychiatric Complications. Indian J Psychol Med. 2017 Mar-Apr; 39(2): 114–121.

Faul M, Xu L, Wald MM, Coronado VG. Traumatic brain injury in the United States. Atlanta, GA: National Center for injury Prevention and Control, Centers for disease Control and Prevention; 2010.

Shlosberg D, Benifla M, Kaufer D, Friedman A. Blood-brain barrier breakdown as a therapeutic target in traumatic brain injury. Nat Rev Neurol. 2010;6:393–403.

Armaiti stems from the root Ar meaning “fitting rightly” and maiti meaning “to meditate and contemplate.

Dr. Arezou Babri