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Traumatic Brain Injury Signs and Symptoms

Comments [16]

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Signs and Symptoms (summer)
More Information

The signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be subtle. Symptoms of a TBI may not appear until days or weeks following the injury or may even be missed as people may look fine even though they may act or feel differently. The following are some common signs and symptoms of a TBI:

  • Headaches or neck pain that do not go away;
  • Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions;
  • Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading;
  • Getting lost or easily confused;
  • Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation;
  • Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason);
  • Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping);
  • Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance;
  • Urge to vomit (nausea);
  • Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions;
  • Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily;
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste; and
  • Ringing in the ears.1

Children with a brain injury can have the same symptoms as adults, but it is often harder for them to let others know how they feel. Call your child's doctor if they have had a blow to the head and you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Tiredness or listlessness;
  • Irritability or crankiness (will not stop crying or cannot be consoled);
  • Changes in eating (will not eat or nurse);
  • Changes in sleep patterns;
  • Changes in the way the child plays;
  • Changes in performance at school;
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys or activities;
  • Loss of new skills, such as toilet training;
  • Loss of balance or unsteady walking; or
  • Vomiting.1

If you think you or someone you know has a TBI, contact your health care provider. Your health care provider can refer you to a neurologist, neuropsychologist, neurosurgeon, or specialist in rehabilitation (such as a speech pathologist). Getting help soon after the injury by trained specialists may speed recovery.


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Facts about concussion and brain injury, 1999.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov.

Comments [16]

I suffered a TBI in 1986 when a guy took a running dive and dived onto the top of my head. I was sent to a psychiatrist in early 1988 and treated for depression. Nobody wanted to take me seriously about my head injury. The nerve pain and neck problems just kept getting worse & worse over time. I was even dismissed as a neurotic woman with a tension headache! Finally 8 years later in 1994 a sympathetic doctor believed me and sent me to an excellent neurologist who had some experience with head injury patients. I had almost lost faith in the medical profession! Now 30 years later I still have episodes with pain and discomfort. I take Lyrica and Cymbalta to help with nerve pain, but sometimes they are not effective enough. I had to use MS Contin for a time, but was able to cease that medication luckily. It looks like the government here in Australia is finally going to allow medicinal cannabis to be legally marketed and I'm prepared to try it for my neuropathic pain. After my early terrible run around with doctors I can only say that head injuries need to be taken seriously.

Oct 28th, 2016 5:26am

You should get help for the alcoholism

Oct 21st, 2016 6:14pm

In April of 2012 my brother was assaulted and left in a ditch. A week later his brain was bleeding and he fell and hit the back of his head. He was in a coma for 3 weeks he had to learn to walk, talk. everything. He now has bad seizures and is an alcoholic. It is killing me. I don't know what to do anymore. We lost our Mom in January 2016. I need help. Anyone know what I can do?

Sep 21st, 2016 12:22am

I would like to get in contact with person in car accident (was hit by someone on speed) with neck injury and diagnosed with TBI. Their post was on 8-29-15. Pls and Thx rhondahi1991@gmail.com

Feb 3rd, 2016 8:33pm

I was diagnosed with TBI after a severe car accident, when I was hit by a man on the drug speed. The court awarded three million in damages to me, but he filed for bankruptcy and escaped all responsibility. TBI if not treated early can pose serious dangers. My TBI was severe, yet the medical establishment missed the mark, the first neurologist diagnosed me with a mental health condition and I was denied life saving surgery for a hematoma. That I lived without the necessary surgery was a miracle. My vision, hearing, and memory were all affected. I also developed a severe seizure condition, intermittent paralysis, severe neck and back pain, insomnia, changes in sex drive, chronic fatigue and mild incontinence. I was diagnosed eight years later via MRI, and other diagnostics. Cost of medical bills $400,000. TBI ended my 12 year marriage, changed the course of my life. DVR was no help, Physical Therapy did not help much. Neurology had no recourse. Reading and books gave more information. I tried alternative care it worked best. I was treated with Syntonic Photo therapy, got custom ear plugs, Chiropractic care, natural nerve therapy and other treatments. I will never recover the Math part of my brain function. However my working memory has improved. My advice is don't expect to ever be the same, but rejoice in what you have left. After three and a half years in a wheel chair, and then a walker, today I am wheel-chair free. I got off disability and run my own small business. TBI will change your life, but not your ability to still have a happy and rewarding life. However better diagnostics and medical care would help many persons to recover rather than become permanently disabled like myself. There needs to be more awareness about TBI. Treat it on time.

Aug 29th, 2015 4:02am

2006/2008 i lost my mom and my grandparents within the span of 2 years 3 years, and was not prepared for my mom's death.

2010 Anybody have traumatic brain injury as a result to hydrocephlaus vp brain shunt put in, 2011  /2012 and then a year later was taken back to hospital and revisions which caused me to be in a coma, not expected to wake up - which i did but after a month - and then later that year i started to go blind having cataract clouds on my eyes that preventing me to function. then i had revisions to my eyes again that caused misaligned eyes blurred vision cob webs on the ways and eyes that are so tired like that im so exhausted - having cataract lenses in my eyes i can not rub my eyes, i can only rub the lenses. the day cataract surgery happened i lost the feel of eyes because of lenses (Both eyes were done at the same time) all the time and then this year i had 4 falls within the span of 6 months because of dizziness - and unbalanced. my speech is starting to be worked on tues, but this was after 5 years fighting for my drs to give me a chance @ one. Now my memory is affected because of all this trauma that my speech pathologist is testing me out for TBI, and my memory and my speech i have been so worried about that i don't know how to relax my brain because i don't want to disappoint anyone that was in my life as friends before surgery or after surgery cause right now because of trauma i don't have friends. Please reply would love to hear advice from anyone. if u all can follow /understand me because talking in sentences is a huge ___ but i can talk flowing on pc. drs said i had bipolar disorder and social anxiety but my shrink said i might NOT have bpd/and social anxiety because of Traumatic Brain injury which they are just finiding out about NOW after 5-6 years.
Anyone help recommend anything i welcome all opinions.

Nov 10th, 2014 1:51am

I've been to doctor it's not good news. I would like to play easy games I was real good on games

Jul 25th, 2014 9:38am

what if you hit your head on a metal door and you start feeling dizzy and 

May 5th, 2014 11:31am

thank you i am 12 i got layed out in footbll he hit me in the back penelty and i couldnt talk atall for a miniute or two but for some reason i went back inteh game and got 11 more tackles and 3 sack on the qb but in my back there was like nerve damage i think it hurt every time i took a shower it stjung

Mar 19th, 2014 5:48pm

Thanks for the website and all info Sarah, psychology student, Iran

Jul 31st, 2012 11:02am

Auto accident at Wayne and Wilmington 24 June 2010 have all on list plus lower spine/back pain; still suffering at this writing. Some MD's and Neurologists have no experience in TBI. Especially be careful not to go to a MD who first practiced in a socialized medicine country- if you walk and talk your good to go. It happened to me at another place not KMC. Richard in Kettering 937.654.4771 Help with proper care please.

Dec 10th, 2011 12:53am

Was a security officer at a local club got bashed and kicked around. Unconcious 10 mins cant even spell my wifes name anymore all the symtoms. 10 days later whats next in my life.

Sep 26th, 2011 4:24am

was in fatal car accident, have not had any medical treatment since leaving hospital...three years ago, everything on this list is my daily life

Aug 8th, 2011 9:37am

after my hellicopter crash 12-25-72 i was having almost all the signs and symptoms so the doctors at sick call keep telling me its the flu syndrome here is some through losingers return to full duty or they would say general malisia fit for duty

Sep 11th, 2010 4:35pm

Great article!

Aug 19th, 2010 11:41am

Is timing critical? Is there a 24=48 hour period where getting appropriate helps make a difference in the opportunity for full/significant recovery?

Jun 8th, 2010 10:20pm

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