There is a wide array of symptoms that can indicate severe brain damage. The severity of brain damage is characterized by the length of time that the person lost consciousness; in severe cases, the person must have been unconscious for six hours or longer. The neurological damage may manifest itself in psychological and physical ways. The most serious symptom of severe brain damage is a coma, which is when a person does not regain consciousness after the injury or loses consciousness and does not wake up.
While a coma is the most serious symptom, there are many others that may indicate severe brain damage. Some of the psychological symptoms may include agitation, depression, or a change in the person’s personality. Many of these symptoms may depend on the location in the brain where the injury occurred; different parts of the brain affect different functions of the body. Other psychological symptoms may include confusion or aggression.
There are numerous physical symptoms that may accompany severe brain damage as well. Some of these may affect the senses. For example, loss of hearing, smell, taste, or sight is not uncommon as a result of brain damage. In addition, severe brain injury may affect a person’s speech in numerous ways. Slurred speech is a common symptom, as is aphasia, which is when people can either not understand the words someone is saying to them or cannot produce the correct words when trying to speak.
Excessive vomiting is another symptom of severe brain damage, as is continuous nausea. Sometimes, a brain injury may cause the person to lose control over the bladder. Seizures and convulsions may be other symptoms of severe brain damage. Paralysis may also occur.
Other symptoms of severe brain damage may include memory loss, which could be temporary or permanent. Another possibility is that either the long-term or short-term memory may be specifically affected. Symptoms such as these may lead to psychological effects, such as depression or agitation, as previously mentioned. People with severe brain injuries often become frustrated because they lack the same abilities they had before the injury, and because of this, they may display different personality traits to deal with that frustration.
People with severe brain damage, if and when they regain consciousness, may not be very responsive. They may feel very tired and want to go to sleep. It is important to try to keep a person with a brain injury awake to prevent the possibility that he or she may slip into a coma.