Some brain injuries change people in ways nobody expects. They may cause pain in unexpected parts of their body or change their mood or personality without anyone knowing why. The injured person might not even believe anything is different.

It may take a family member to connect these changes to an injury. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be minor or serious, but both should find quality medical attention as soon as possible.

Often no visible cuts or bruises

Anytime your head moves quickly and then stops or changes direction, your brain might get injured. A brain injury happens when a person’s brain bumps against the inside of their skull.

Your skull is a container and your brain can bounce or twist inside it. Even a good helmet or a car’s airbag may not always prevent a brain injury. Often, the person does not even need stitches.

Even in the military, most brain injuries are not from enemy fire, but instead from minor car accidents, falls during a basketball game or a slip on a patch of ice.

Symptoms that may only show up later

People with a brain injury can have major reactions right away, like being “knocked out,” feeling sick or throwing up, “the spins,” double vision and other reactions. These often go away in the seconds, minutes or hours after the accident.

But other reactions may only come many hours or even months later, too late for most people to think they could be related to a bump to the head from long before. They can include:

  • Easily angry, upset or frustrated (irritable).
  • Often stressed or depressed, lack of interest in things they used to enjoy.
  • Sleeping much more than before, trouble getting to sleep or trouble staying asleep.
  • Memory problems (not knowing birthdays, names, directions or other things they always knew before).
  • Absent-mindedness or overlooking simple things (leaving the water running, not closing the garage door).
  • Over-sensitive to “bright” lights or smells, trouble smelling or tasting things, suddenly disliking tastes or smells they use to enjoy.

People with TBIs might have all these reactions, one or two of them or still other reactions instead.

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