Traumatic Brain Injury: Long-term effects, management and treatment options

Dr. Arezou Babri, ND

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) most commonly include concussions, closed head injuries, or penetrating injuries. These injuries can result from anything between a simple blow to the head to a significant external trauma that can impact the normal function of the brain.

A TBI can have long-term physical, cognitive, behavioural, and psychological complications. Additionally, some chronic consequences of TBI include gastrointestinal dysfunction, fluid and hormonal imbalances and nerve injuries.

Researchers have shown that many individuals with a history of TBI also suffer from comorbid mental-health conditions including major depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse.

Clinical evaluation of TBI may include the use of Glasgow Coma Scale, neurological examination, cognitive evaluation or specialized imaging including a CT scan or MRI.

Some of the most common symptoms of a TBI include headache, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, difficulty with concentration and memory and mood disturbances.

A naturopathic medical approach in the management of a TBI looks to correct the biological and chemical changes induced by the brain trauma. Starting with the foundations of health a naturopathic doctor’s approach in the management of a TBI may include addressing diet, and lifestyle. The aim is to achieve optimal nutrition, blood sugar regulation, implement an appropriate exercise routine, and correct sleep disturbances.

On a more biological level we look to correct the systemic effects of a TBI by supporting the nervous system, assisting proper cellular function, addressing neuroinflammation and potential circulatory concerns. As stated above the mental/emotional burden of a TBI can be significant therefore emotional support and establishing stress management techniques are also key in the management of this “polypathology” condition.

References:

Marr AL., Coronado VG., et al. Central nervous system injury surveillance data submission standards. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 2004.

Ahmed S., Venigalla H., Madhuri H., et al. Traumatic Brain Injury and Neuropsychiatric Complications. Indian J Psychol Med. 2017 Mar-Apr; 39(2): 114–121.

Faul M, Xu L, Wald MM, Coronado VG. Traumatic brain injury in the United States. Atlanta, GA: National Center for injury Prevention and Control, Centers for disease Control and Prevention; 2010.

Shlosberg D, Benifla M, Kaufer D, Friedman A. Blood-brain barrier breakdown as a therapeutic target in traumatic brain injury. Nat Rev Neurol. 2010;6:393–403.

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