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Traumatic Brain Injury

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Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment and Surgery in Staten Island, NY

For individuals or their loved ones who have sustained traumatic brain injuries, help is available 24/7 at Richmond University Medical Center’s Level I Adult and Level II Pediatric Trauma Center. Whether treating concussions or severe injuries, Richmond University Medical Center’s medical team is always prepared to handle such cases, with surgical teams on standby. Learn more about traumatic brain injury care and other medical services available at RUMC on Staten Island, NY.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the result of a serious impact to the head, neck, or other parts of the body. TBIs range from mild to severe –– some cause only temporary or short-term brain function problems, while others can lead to permanent disability or death.

TBIs are classified in several ways, including:

  • Primary TBI: The onset of symptoms and potential brain damage occur immediately.
  • Secondary TBI: The TBI’s symptoms and damage may not be evident for hours, days, or weeks after the trauma. This is because secondary TBIs are caused by reactive processes in the brain following the initial event.
  • Penetrating TBI: Sometimes called open TBI, this occurs when the skull is pierced by an object, which enters brain tissue.
  • Non-penetrating TBI: Known as blunt TBI or closed-head injury, this results from impact or force that has moved the brain within the skull.
  • Focal TBI: The injury’s damage is affecting only one area of the brain.
  • Diffuse TBI: The injury’s damage is widespread over several brain areas.

Symptoms of TBIs

When TBIs occur, the primary effects include brain bleeding, tearing of tissue, nerve fiber damage, inflammation, swelling, and metabolic changes. These effects can result in the following symptoms:

  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Clear fluid coming out of the ears or nose
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Headache
  • Light-headedness, vertigo, or dizziness
  • Mood changes or swings
  • New neurological, cognitive, or sensory symptoms such as:
    • Changes in consciousness or sleep patterns
    • Disorientation or confusion
    • Loss of balance
    • Memory and concentration problems
    • New inability to wake up from sleep
    • Slurred speech
    • Weakness in the face, legs, or arms
  • Pupils that are unequal in size or dilation
  • Ringing in the ears and other hearing issues
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Sensitivity to sound or light
  • Vomiting and nausea

When it comes to TBIs in children, additional signs may include:

  • Changes in nursing or eating habits
  • Lack of interest in toys or activities they love
  • Loss of skills (i.e. toilet training)
  • Loss of balance
  • Persistent crying and fussing that cannot be consoled
  • Sleep and mood changes
  • Inability to pay attention

Anyone displaying symptoms of a TBI should seek immediate medical attention.

Causes and Risk Factors

TBIs occur after a forceful jolt, blow, or bump to the head or body, as well as when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain. Examples of TBI events include:

  • Blast injuries
  • Blunt trauma incidents
  • Falls
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Natural disasters
  • Sport injuries
  • Violence

While some TBIs occur from circumstances out of one’s control, there are some risk factors for certain events. For instance, adults over the age of 65 are more at risk for a TBI resulting from a fall. There could also be an occupational risk for TBI for those who work in specific industries, such as construction, transportation, or professional sports.

Complications of TBIs

Because TBIs involve brain cell damage, the brain may become unable to correctly send signals throughout the body. As a result, patients may experience TBI complications such as:

  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Effects on consciousness, such as:
    • Brain death
    • Coma
    • Minimally conscious state
    • Vegetative state
  • Loss of bodily control or functions
  • Memory problems
  • Mood or personality changes
  • Poor coordination or speech
  • Vision problems

Diagnosing a Traumatic Brain Injury

The neurosurgeons and physicians at Richmond University Medical Center’s Brain and Spine Center are always on call to respond to a traumatic brain injury. In most cases, physicians will first evaluate the head injury with a neurological exam, which involves:

  • Analyzing coordination and balance
  • Checking sensory and motor skills
  • Measuring mental status and changes in behavior or mood
  • Screening for a concussion
  • Taking vital signs
  • Testing speech, hearing, memory, concentration, problem-solving, and reaction time

Diagnostic imaging tests will follow when warranted. Brain scans may be performed via computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Treatment Options for TBIs

Traumatic brain injury treatment is available from the award-winning physicians and surgeons at Richmond University Medical Center. Traumatic brain injury care is tailored to each patient’s individual needs, with treatment options depending on factors such as the severity of the injury and the patient’s overall health.

Surgical TBI Treatment

In severe cases, traumatic brain injury surgery is usually performed immediately, aiming to:

  • Control blood pressure and breathing
  • Ensure proper oxygen delivery throughout the body
  • Extract debris
  • Prevent further damage, infection, blood clots, or death
  • Relieve pressure within the skull
  • Remove hematomas or dead brain tissue
  • Repair fractures in the skull
  • Stabilize organ functions including in the heart, lungs, and spinal cord

Non-Surgical TBI Treatment

For patients without a life-threatening TBI, non-surgical treatments may include:

  • Anticoagulant medications to prevent blood clots
  • Anticonvulsant drugs for seizures
  • Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs
  • Diuretic medications for fluid retention and brain pressure reduction
  • Prescribed or over-the-counter pain medications
  • Rest with no physical activity until cleared by a physician
  • Stimulants for alertness

Mild traumatic brain injuries should be carefully monitored over the coming days and weeks for new symptoms, which may develop over time. It is also recommended for patients to follow up with their primary care physician to ensure a full recovery. Further, patients who have sustained a concussion should follow strict return-to-activity protocols as set by their physician.


Patients who have received non-surgical and surgical TBI treatment may also undergo further rehabilitation. Multidisciplinary care teams collaborate to form short- and long-term care plans, which may include:

  • Cognitive rehabilitation therapy
  • Mental health treatment
  • Nutrition guidance
  • Physical therapy or occupational therapy
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Skilled nursing assistance

Some of these therapies are provided through Richmond University Medical Center’s Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Center.

What to Expect From TBI Care at Richmond University Medical Center

With a Gold Seal of Approval® for quality and patient safety from The Joint Commission, Richmond University Medical Center is fully equipped to handle traumatic brain injuries of all kinds. The Level I adult trauma care center is verified by the American College of Surgeons, adhering to rigorous standards including:

  • Continuous education for trauma team members about best practices and the latest technology
  • Patient referrals to other community resources for further treatment
  • Prepared for treating a high volume of trauma patients at all times
  • Ready for all stages of care (i.e. prevention, emergency surgery, rehabilitation)
  • Quality assessment program to ensure smooth, effective operations

In addition, Richmond University Medical Center is a Level II Pediatric Trauma Center, as well as a designated Stroke Center with national recognition from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. There is also a state-of-the-art Cardiac Catheterization Lab, which provides elective and emergent angioplasty procedures.

Richmond University Medical Center also has an on-site Wound Care/Hyperbaric Center and Sleep Disorder Center. It is all part of a commitment to providing a comprehensive care approach for each patient. Learn more about the patient experience in the patient bill of rights.

Learn More About Traumatic Brain Injury Care

Not only is time of the essence when it comes to treating TBIs, but the skill and expertise of physicians and surgeons can also make all the difference. For the best possible outcome, choose a provider that puts the best interests of each patient at the forefront. Richmond University Medical Center is standing by 24/7 to provide traumatic brain injury treatment. To learn more about TBI surgery and other services we offer at our locations on Staten Island, NY, contact Richmond University Medical Center today.