The most common causes of long term brain damage include physical trauma, stroke, tumors and infections. Long term brain damage is also sometimes found in infants who sustained injury while in the womb or during the labor and delivery process. Infants born with genetic abnormalities or spinal cord injuries might also suffer from brain damage in the long term.
Physical trauma is one of the most common causes of long term brain damage that is acquired later in life. Any type of harsh blow to the head can lead to permanent brain damage. Repetitive trauma is also a common cause of brain damage. This type of injury is often seen in professional athletes who participate in contact sports, such as boxing or football. Indirect trauma, such as whiplash, can also cause severe injury to the brain, damaging the nerves and cells.
An individual who suffers a stroke will likely have some form of brain damage, ranging from mild to severe. A stroke is usually caused by a blood clot that temporarily cuts off or restricts blood flow to the brain. Without blood, the brain is deprived of oxygen, and cells begin to die. Another type of stroke, called a hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when a blood vessel ruptures in the brain. This type of stroke is often caused by an aneurysm, a thin portion of an artery that can swell and rupture.
Patients who develop brain tumors or infections in the brain or spinal cord are at risk for long term brain damage. The brain might swell because of an infection or press against the skull because of a tumor. This can lead to bleeding or bruising, which can permanently damage parts of the brain.
Long term brain damage might result from an injury or damage to a specific part of the brain or might occur in several areas, as with a stroke or tumor. Which areas of the brain are affected play a large role in determining the outcome of the individual's condition. For example, if the areas of the brain that control speech and communication are badly damaged, the person might not be able to speak for the rest of his or her life. Assessing long term brain damage is a complicated process that involves many tests and considerations, so individuals who have suffered brain damage and their loved ones should speak at length with a doctor and specialists to determine the prognosis and what type of treatment might be necessary.
Suffering any type of head trauma can lead to long term brain damage, even if the signs are not immediately present. Any individual who has suffered a head injury, suspects a stroke or has persistent headaches or vision problems with no other explanation should seek medical attention to evaluate the condition. Long term brain damage can sometimes be prevented with early intervention and proper medical care.