Symptoms of non-traumatic brain injuries are typically difficult to spot at first – this might be because the cognitive function of the affected patient is so impaired that they don’t realise there’s a problem. For example, a patient afflicted with an acquired brain injury might suffer headaches, dizziness or sickness – signs of a concussion – despite not being physically injured. Other symptoms range from the physical – an aversion to bright light or problems with mobility – to cognitive impairment such as forgetting someone’s name or where they live and can even cause emotional problems such as depression or euphoria.
Such symptoms, if persistent, can be the result of one of many underlying problems. Any swelling in the brain can cause a number of physical and mental symptoms, according to the Brain Injury Hub. Encephalitis, for example, refers to the swelling of brain tissue – this could be the result of either an autoimmune condition, or an infection. The same is true of meningitis, a virus or bacteria results in the swelling of cell membranes which line the brain and spinal cord. Other problems such as bleeding in the brain, haemorrhage or a brain tumour, whether benign or malignant, can cause long term damage to the brain.
What to do
There are a variety of different medical conditions which can leave patients displaying symptoms of brain injury. When patients haven’t been involved in any sort of physical accident then they can often be left unchecked. However, looking out for a few key mental and physical signs could help you spot potential brain injury.
Behaviour – is the patient being irrationally angry or sad? Are they acting differently towards people? Are they depressed?
Memory – does the patient forget names they would normally know? Do they make plans and completely forget to do them at a later time?
Co-ordination – is the patient off-balance a lot? Are they unsteady on their feet? Do they experience problems with simple mechanics like remote controls?
If you are concerned about an individual with any of these symptoms or if there is any other aspect of their daily life which they are unable to achieve which you find distressing, you should speak to a GP.