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Traumatic Brain Injury (Concussion)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a sudden injury from an external force that affects the functioning of the brain. It can be caused by a bump or blow to the head (closed head injury) or by an object penetrating the skull (called a penetrating injury).

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development)

About Traumatic Brain Injuries

The most common form of TBI is concussion. A concussion can happen when the head or body is moved back and forth quickly, such as during a motor vehicle accident or sports injury.

Concussions are often called "mild TBI" because they are usually not life-threatening. However, they still can cause serious problems, and research suggests that repeated concussions can be particularly dangerous.

A person who has a TBI may have some of the same symptoms as a person who has a non-traumatic brain injury. Unlike TBI, this type of injury is not caused by an external force, but is caused by an internal problem, such as a stroke or infection.

Both types of injury can have serious, long-term effects on a person's cognition and functioning...Read more about Traumatic Brain Injury NIH - National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Not enough evidence on whether hyperventilation therapy improves outcomes for people with traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury is a major cause of premature death and disability. Severe head injury can trigger brain swelling, thereby increasing pressure on the brain (raised intracranial pressure, ICP). Raised ICP increases the likelihood of brain damage or death. Treatment to lower people's ICP commonly involves hyperventilation therapy (increasing blood oxygen levels) following the brain injury. While hyperventilation therapy can reduce ICP after traumatic brain injury, the review of trials found there is no strong evidence about whether this improves outcomes. More trials are needed.

Interventions that aim to reduce body temperature to between 35 ºC and 37.5 ºC in patients who have had a traumatic brain injury within the last week

The authors of this Cochrane review looked for evidence that reducing body temperature to between 35 ºC and 37.5 ºC would benefit patients in the week after traumatic brain injury. We looked for studies on the use of physical or drug‐induced cooling on patients with a traumatic brain injury. Physical cooling techniques include cooling blankets, use of ice, fans or other devices. Chemical cooling techniques include drugs used to reduce fever, like paracetamol (acetaminophen).

Acupuncture for acute management and rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury

Acupuncture used for the acute treatment, rehabilitation (or both) of traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been studied in China. We conducted a systematic review to evaluate the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for these conditions. Four randomized controlled trials were eligible for inclusion in this review, involving 294 patients. Three investigated electro‐acupuncture for TBI while one investigated acupuncture for acute TBI. The studies were of low methodological quality and were diverse in their objectives, participant characteristics, acupuncture modalities and strategies, and outcome measures. The small number of studies together with their low methodological quality means that they are inadequate to allow any conclusion to be drawn about the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in the treatment of TBI. Further methodologically robust studies are needed to generate evidence‐based conclusions.

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Summaries for consumers

Not enough evidence on whether hyperventilation therapy improves outcomes for people with traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury is a major cause of premature death and disability. Severe head injury can trigger brain swelling, thereby increasing pressure on the brain (raised intracranial pressure, ICP). Raised ICP increases the likelihood of brain damage or death. Treatment to lower people's ICP commonly involves hyperventilation therapy (increasing blood oxygen levels) following the brain injury. While hyperventilation therapy can reduce ICP after traumatic brain injury, the review of trials found there is no strong evidence about whether this improves outcomes. More trials are needed.

Interventions that aim to reduce body temperature to between 35 ºC and 37.5 ºC in patients who have had a traumatic brain injury within the last week

The authors of this Cochrane review looked for evidence that reducing body temperature to between 35 ºC and 37.5 ºC would benefit patients in the week after traumatic brain injury. We looked for studies on the use of physical or drug‐induced cooling on patients with a traumatic brain injury. Physical cooling techniques include cooling blankets, use of ice, fans or other devices. Chemical cooling techniques include drugs used to reduce fever, like paracetamol (acetaminophen).

Acupuncture for acute management and rehabilitation of traumatic brain injury

Acupuncture used for the acute treatment, rehabilitation (or both) of traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been studied in China. We conducted a systematic review to evaluate the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for these conditions. Four randomized controlled trials were eligible for inclusion in this review, involving 294 patients. Three investigated electro‐acupuncture for TBI while one investigated acupuncture for acute TBI. The studies were of low methodological quality and were diverse in their objectives, participant characteristics, acupuncture modalities and strategies, and outcome measures. The small number of studies together with their low methodological quality means that they are inadequate to allow any conclusion to be drawn about the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in the treatment of TBI. Further methodologically robust studies are needed to generate evidence‐based conclusions.

See all (63)

More about Traumatic Brain Injury

Photo of a young adult

Also called: Head injury, TBI

See Also: Post-Concussion Syndrome

Related articles:
How the Brain Works

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