Brain injuries are unique. In fact, according to the Brain Injury Association of America, no two brain injuries are alike. As a result, medical care following a brain injury may be different in every case. Although the treatment may vary depending on the severity of the brain injury, some typical medical care and medications will be needed in the immediate aftermath of a brain injury.
For example, with a mild traumatic brain injury, medical care may include rest, over-the-counter pain relievers, and follow-up doctor’s appointments, whereas treatment for moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries may include a trip to the emergency room or intensive care unit followed by life-saving procedures. Unfortunately, many brain injury survivors may be unconscious or unstable when they arrive at the hospital and will need the following medical treatment:
- Maintaining oxygen, blood supply, and blood pressure. Sometimes people with brain injuries aren’t able to breathe on their own. As a result, ventilators or respirators are used to help patients with brain injuries breathe. Oxygen levels in the brain also need to be monitored and is generally done through the use of a Licox (a brain oxygen monitor). Also, tubes put in patients’ veins, known as arterial lines, can help measure blood pressure.
- Monitoring bleeding, swelling, and pressure on the brain. Because the brain has nowhere to expand due to the hard skull surrounding it, pressure on the brain needs to be carefully monitored. This is why an intracranial pressure monitor (ICP) device is generally used to monitor the pressure in the brain.
- Reducing secondary damages to the brain through use of medications. Most medications delivered to patients who have suffered serious brain injuries are through intravenous lines (known as IVs) or through nasogastric tubes (NG tube).
Types of Medications Used in Treating Brain Injuries
Medical stability is often achieved through the use of medications, as specific drugs are a way to limit the secondary damage to the brain. Some of the drugs given to those who have suffered a moderate to severe brain injury include:
- Anti-seizure medications. Because many people with traumatic brain injuries suffer from seizures, doctors generally prescribe anti-seizure drugs to prevent seizures and additional brain damage.
- Diuretics. This is a type of drug that helps reduce the pressure inside the brain by reducing the amount of fluid in tissues.
- Coma-inducing medications. When there is enough pressure in the brain that blood vessels are too restricted to provide the necessary oxygen and nutrients to the brain, doctors may choose to put patients with brain injuries into temporary comas because less oxygen is needed for comatose brains.
Because urgent medical care and medications are critical in helping reduce brain damage following brain injuries, we feel it is important that all brain injury victims and their families are aware of the above information. Please take time and share this article with those you know—especially those you know who have suffered head trauma. Sometimes people aren’t aware of the type of medical care they should be receiving.