Traumatic Brain Injury

Abstract

Traumatic brain injury, generally defined as an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology as a result of an external force, has established itself as a significant threat to public health. It impacts survivors and their families, and demonstrates clear economic repercussions at the societal level, costing hundreds of billions of dollars annually worldwide. To detect, manage and prevent this complex and often lifelong disabling injury, it is essential to understand its distribution and patterns, and have comprehensive knowledge of persons at risk of injury and adverse outcomes.

Key Concepts

  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is on the rise worldwide.
  • The lack of a universal definition of TBI presents a problem for quantification of true TBI burden.
  • The baseline clinical severity measures for TBI are often based on symptomatology, loss of consciousness and post‐traumatic amnesia; discordance between clinical severity and evidence of injury based on neuroimaging is common; investment in biomarkers of neuronal and glial integrity is growing.
  • Persons with similar injury severity and acute presentation can experience significantly different clinical course and functional outcomes.
  • Certain groups of people are more vulnerable to TBI and adverse outcomes than others, owing to unique interactions between their biological, behavioural, social and cultural standing before and after the injury.
  • Clinicians, researchers and policy leaders dealing with critical injuries with long‐lasting effects such as TBI cannot afford to leave its probability in the future to chance; greater investment in injury prevention is timely.

Keywords: brain injury; concussion; biomechanics; diagnosis; prognosis; motor and cognitive problems; behavioural impairments; rehabilitation; injury prevention

Figure 1. (a) Image depicting the mechanism of a concussion – a direct blow or sudden deceleration or acceleration forces brought on the head or upper body causing the brain to move within the skull; (b) types of damage to neurons occurring in TBI, and characterising diffuse axonal injury; (c) hematomas – a consequence of TBI where blood pools within the skull due to shearing forces vectored at blood vessels. Adapted from qbi.uq.edu.au/concussion/what-is-concussionPB, neuroscience.openetext.utoronto.ca/chapter/2-1-acute-physical-damage-to-the-nervous-system-axonal-injury-in-the-pns-and-cns/ASH and bloodjournal.org/content/129/22/2952?sso-checked=true
Figure 2. Impact of TBI – incidence rates across populations. Graph created using pooled incidence values reported in systematic review and meta‐analysis by Nguyen et al., . Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals.
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Further Reading

Mollayeva T and Colantonio A (2017) Gender, sex and traumatic brain injury: transformative science to optimize patient outcomes. Healthcare Quarterly 20 (1): 6–9. DOI: 10.12927/hcq.2017.25144

Mollayeva T, Mollayeva S, Pacheco N, D'Souza A and Colantonio A (2019) The course and prognostic factors of cognitive outcomes after traumatic brain injury: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 99: 198–250. DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2019.01.011.

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Mollayeva, Tatyana(Jan 2020) Traumatic Brain Injury. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0027190]