What are the possible effects of TBI?

The effects of TBI range in duration and seriousness, depending on the extent of the injury and its location.1According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost one-half of those hospitalized after a TBI have a related disability one year after the injury.2

Immediate Problems

Sometimes, a person will have medical complications as a result of TBI, and the risk of these problems increases with the severity of the injury. Some complications of TBI include seizures, nerve damage, blood clots, contraction of a blood vessel, stroke, coma, and infections in the brain.1 The risks of many of these problems decrease as more time passes from the initial TBI and as the person's condition stabilizes.

Longer-term Effects of TBI

TBI may cause problems with various brain functions. The types and extent of these problems depend on where the brain was injured.

Possible problems from TBI include:

  • Cognition, such as difficulty learning, remembering, making decisions, and reasoning
  • Senses, such as double vision, a consistent bitter taste in the mouth or a loss of the sense of taste, ringing in the ears, and tingling or pain
  • Communication, such as trouble talking, reading, writing, and explaining feelings or thoughts
  • Behavior, including difficulty with social situations, relationships, and self-control, or aggression
  • Emotions, including depression, anxiety, mood swings, and irritability1,3

Degenerative Effects of TBI

Research suggests that having one or more TBIs may increase the risk of diseases that cause the degeneration, or break down, of brain cells. Some evidence indicates that TBI is associated with:

  • Alzheimer's disease, which impairs memory, emotions, and thinking skills
  • Parkinson's disease, which causes the loss of motor skills and control over motor skills
  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (pronounced en-sef-uh-LOP-uh-thee), which often affects athletes involved in sports with head impacts, including boxing, football, and hockey, and causes problems with memory, thinking, and motor skills1


  1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2017). Traumatic brain injury: Hope through research. Retrieved April 9, 2018, from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Traumatic-Brain-Injury-Hope-Through
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Severe traumatic brain injury. Retrieved May 24, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/severe.html
  3. Brain Injury Association of America. Living with traumatic brain injury. Retrieved June 13, 2012, from https://www.biausa.org/brain-injury/about-brain-injury/adults-what-to-expect External Web Site Policy

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