The symptoms of traumatic brain injury are numerous and varied. The brain is a critical part of the functioning of nearly every portion of the human body, and as a result, an injury can cause symptoms in areas other than just the head. Some of the first signs of a head injury may include abnormal thought, wakefulness, and perception. Symptoms may also manifest as physical pain, either in the head or in other areas of the body. Other symptoms occur as a result of unusual signals from the brain to the extremities and appear in areas physically unaffected by the original injury.
A traumatic brain injury occurs when the head receives a blow or is subjected to a concussive force that exceeds the head's ability to resist injury. These injuries are common in accident victims and among injured soldiers. They also frequently occur among athletes, even those who wear protective headgear. The symptoms caused by an incident of brain injury may appear almost immediately, but many develop gradually over the course of a few days. Anyone who has suffered a blow to the head should be evaluated by a medical professional, whether or not he or she appears to have any of the symptoms of traumatic brain injury, as this condition is not always immediately apparent.
Some of the most common symptoms of traumatic brain injury relate to perception and cognition. Victims of brain trauma may lose consciousness or have difficulty focusing or concentrating. Memory may be affected, and the senses may give false information, such as a persistent buzzing. Mood may be affected as well, and serious brain injuries may cause changes in personality or cause the person to have great difficulty in concentrating. Unusually deep sleep and general cognitive difficulty can also be symptoms of this condition.
Other symptoms manifest directly as physical pain. A headache is one of the most common symptoms of traumatic brain injury. Such pain may be mild when the injury is not terribly severe but can grow steadily in intensity and become crippling in cases of serious injury. Fluids may seep from the nose or ears in patients with severe injuries.
An additional class of symptoms stem from the brain's inability to properly regulate other bodily systems. Bowel or bladder problems may occur, and serious bouts of nausea are common. The arms, legs, fingers, and toes may all experience numbness or tingling. It may be difficult for a patient to walk or to keep his balance. Seizures or problems with coordination are also common symptoms of traumatic brain injury.