Traumatic Brain Injury Discharge Information

What is a traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a blow to the head or a shaking, jarring, or jolting movement that causes stretching, swelling, or tearing of brain tissue and delicate nerve fibers. Common causes of TBI include car or motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, sports injuries, and falls.

A TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe. Even a mild TBI may become severe if more than one occurs within a short period. This is known as Second Impact Syndrome, or SIS. Types of brain injury include:

  • Concussion – temporary loss of brain function
  • Contusion – bruising of the brain
  • Hemorrhage – bleeding into or around the brain
  • Hematoma – blood clot caused by a collection of blood in the brain

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

How long it takes to get better depends on the location and type of the injury, how severely your brain is injured, and any complications you may have. You may need to make lifestyle changes to adjust to any long-term effects of a brain injury and reduce the risk of having another TBI.

Management

  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
  • Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine to:
    • Treat pain
    • Prevent seizures
    • Prevent nausea
  • You may need to continue your TBI rehabilitation program at a nursing facility or at home. Most rehabilitation programs include:
    • Physical therapy to help you regain muscle strength and teach you ways to move safely
    • Occupational therapy to help you relearn ways to do the tasks affected by the TBI
    • Speech therapy to help you if you have problems with swallowing, speaking, or understanding words
    • Therapy may include skin care and training to help you control your bladder and bowels.
  • You may need help with daily activities

Appointments

  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments.
  • Keep appointments for any routine testing you may need.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.

Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes

  • Follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes.
  • Follow activity restrictions, such as not driving or operating machinery, as recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, especially if you are taking pain medicines or muscle relaxants.
  • Get plenty of rest while you’re recovering. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Exercise as your provider recommends.
  • Avoid any activities that would risk another injury. A second injury before the first one has healed could be very serious.
  • Use proper equipment, such as helmets and seat belts, and follow proper techniques in sports to help prevent future brain injuries.
  • If the TBI has caused you to have difficulty swallowing, you will probably need to make changes in some of the foods you eat. Ask your provider about the benefits of talking to a dietician to learn how to keep a healthy diet.
  • Find ways to make your life less stressful.

Call emergency medical services or 911 if you have new or worsening:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Trouble with muscle movements, such as swallowing, moving arms and legs
  • Bleeding from your ears or nose
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble speaking or understanding

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Change in vision, such as double vision, blurred vision, or trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
  • Trouble staying awake or alert
  • Headache
  • Trouble thinking clearly or remembering
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Unusual behavior or restlessness
  • Personality changes, including irritability
  • Increased thirst and dry mouth
  • Increased urination

If you have any of these symptoms, do not drive yourself.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-05-01
Last reviewed: 2014-04-14
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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