Trauma to the brain or spine can be devastating. It will change your life forever. Trauma to the brain and spine are not always severe. Sometimes trauma is mild and does not leave you with lifelong damage. Other times trauma is severe and can cause paralysis or brain damage. A neurologist treats both brain and spinal problems. Treatment is not effective for all types of injuries, but it can help with mild injuries. Brain and spinal cord injuries are hard to cure because nerve cells do not regenerate like other types of cells in the body. As science progresses, the hope is that nerve cells will be regenerated to not only treat brain and spine problems but to cure them.
The brain and spine control all the functions of the body. The brain is divided into three components. Each component controls a different part of the body. The brain controls cognitive function, seeing, hearing, voluntary and involuntary functions. The brainstem is responsible for involuntary actions like the heartbeat and breathing. The spinal cord controls mostly voluntary actions. Movement of the arms and legs are directly associated with the spinal cord. The results of brain and spinal trauma are dependent upon the location of the trauma.
The first step of both brain and spinal injuries is determining how bad the injury is. Brain injuries range from mild to severe. Milder injuries are things like concussions. Concussions range from mild to severe. Mild concussions will initially cause dizziness and may even lead to fainting. More severe symptoms can cause nausea, vomiting, and severe headaches. These symptoms may last only a few weeks and other times it can be life long until treated. Constant concussions will affect your mood, behavior, and bring about some significant damage that may not be reversible. When you experience a hard blow to the head, you can have brain damage. The swelling and bruising from the impact will damage brain cells. When the brain stem is damaged, you cannot even breathe or control your heartbeat. You have to be on life support and many people die from these injuries.
Spinal cord damage is typically severe. Sometimes it is mild and leads to numbness and weakness in the extremities. You may also have back pain. Depending on how the injury occurred, you could have vertebrae that are displaced. Unfortunately, most spinal cord injuries result in paralysis. Some people only lose feeling in their legs, and others become quadriplegic where they lose feeling in both arms and legs. In spinal injuries, broken vertebrae are typically a part of the problem. The skull is very difficult to fracture, so it does not always break when there are brain injuries. There has to be a massive impact to fracture the skull. A fractured skull only adds to the severity of the problem, especially if pieces of the skull break off.
Treatment for brain and spinal cord injuries vary. Not all injuries are the same. Some injuries cannot even be treated. The first step is to stabilize the head and neck. You do not want anybody moving you too much and causing more damage. For mild concussions, you may only need rest. The doctor may prescribe medication that will help with headache symptoms and nausea and vomiting. When there is fluid on the brain, the doctor will have to do surgery to drain the fluid. Skull fractures must be stabilized or else the bone will begin to deteriorate. Parts of the skull may also have to be removed to relieve the pressure. Spine treatments are similar. The vertebrae may have to be put back in place. This may require the use of screws. Surgery is invasive, and recovery is long. Fluid may also build up in the vertebrae and have to be drained. The fluid will put pressure on the nerves and lead to numbness and weakness in the extremities. After treatment, you have to be monitored to make sure the pressure does not build up again, and you do not experience more symptoms.
There is not just one doctor that treats brain and spinal injuries, but many. It takes a whole team to make sure you are stable. The brain and spine control so many things that it takes a neurologist, trauma surgeon, physical therapist and radiologist to give you the best treatment. Trauma to the brain and spine is not something that you can take care of all at once. It takes a lot of treatment as well as follow-up. Some symptoms do not even show up until weeks after, especially with concussions.
Trauma to the brain and spine is serious. A lot of times you cannot avoid it. It can happen if you are involved in an accident or maybe in sports injuries. You can try your best to avoid these injuries, but you cannot control it. If you suffer from a concussion, you have to be very cautious. It is not the most severe of injuries, but it will cause a lot of problems if you do not get proper treatment. Be informed and cautious about the brain and spinal injuries. Always wear a helmet on your bike or motorcycle. Sometimes not doing the simple things causes the greatest problems.
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