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​Brain Trauma Injury Symptoms and Treatment

A patient with a traumatic brain injury has access to the most sophisticated treatments available at UPMC's Brain Trauma and Injury Center.

Our traumatic brain injury experts use the latest technologies to help you heal and — most importantly — return to leading a normal life, when possible.

About Traumatic Brain Injury

The definition of a traumatic brain injury is a severe, violent strike to the head that causes the brain to bump against the inside of the skull. It can also occur when an object, such as a bullet or a piece of the skull, penetrates the brain.

The degree of trauma to the brain depends on several factors, including the nature of the accident and the force of impact.

Common events causing traumatic brain injury include:

  • Falls
  • Vehicle-related collisions
  • Violence
  • Sports injuries
  • Explosive blasts and other combat injuries

Types of traumatic brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries are divided into two categories: open head injury and closed head injury.

  • Open head injuries are injuries in which the skull has been fractured or the membranes surrounding the brain (dura mater) have been breached. Open head injuries are very serious. They often require surgery to extract pieces of the fractured skull and implant synthetic pieces.
  • Closed head injuries, such as concussion, do not break the skull and are typically caused by blows to the head.

Both open and closed head injuries require expert treatment to potentially reduce the severity of brain damage.

Brain Injury Treatment: A Comprehensive Approach

Treatment for traumatic brain injury depends on the extent of the injuries sustained.

In most minor cases, doctors recommend rest to let the injury heal on its own.

For traumatic brain injuries, such as skull fractures and severe concussions, treatment requires immediate and ongoing care.

As a world leader in traumatic brain injury treatment and research, UPMC's Brain Trauma and Injury Center works closely with our colleagues from:

  • Trauma division
  • Critical care medicine
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuroradiology
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation

This collaborative approach allows us to offer you the most comprehensive treatment plan for your type of brain trauma.

Ground-breaking imaging technology for brain injuries

Neurosurgeons at UPMC are now using a new approach for the diagnosis and treatment of traumatic brain injuries.

High definition fiber tracking (HDFT) is ground-breaking imaging technology, developed at the University of Pittsburgh, that makes the connections in the brain visible to the human eye.

Instead of flat, black-and-white images, HDFT technology shows a 3D of the brain filled with thin, multi-colored strands.

These colorful strands allow UPMC neurosurgeons to see which brain connections have been broken due to trauma, and which have been left intact.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Recovery
UPMC neurosurgeon and trauma expert Dr. David Okonkwo used an innovative treatment to keep Joshua Roe’s brain cool after a car crash caused a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and put him into a coma.

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