There are different types and levels of brain injury, and severe head injuries often have long-term effects and can also be fatal. There are numerous causes of traumatic brain injury, and the most common ones are falls, motor vehicle accidents, violence and sports injuries.

According to the Brain Injury Alliance of Utah, the most serious of brain injuries occur from penetrating wounds or crushing blows. With a penetrating injury, the force of a sharp object or bullet forces bone fragments into the brain. This causes tremendous damage and stretches and ruptures the tissues of the brain. A blow to the head can cause concussions, tearing of the brain structures and bleeding in the brain.

Injury to the brain results in a number of changes. There is often long-term dysfunction related to language, emotions, sensation and thinking. A TBI can also increase the risk for brain disorders, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.

According to the Mayo Clinic, people who suffer from severe brain injuries may also experience prolonged changes in consciousness, such as a coma, vegetative state or brain death. A brain injury is usually an emergency situation, and medical teams use a variety of diagnosis tools. A doctor determines the initial severity by use of the Glasgow Coma Scale, and a low score indicates more severe injuries. A CT scan also identifies bleeding, swelling, bruising and blood clots in the brain.

Treatment depends on the cause and the severity. Initial emergency tactics control swelling and make sure enough oxygen is getting to the brain. Other common treatment methods include surgery, medication and rehabilitation. Rehab typically occurs for years and teaches the patient how to perform daily activities. Most people with severe brain injuries do not return to pre-injury status.