Secondary Injuries and Syndromes
After a brain injury, the body can develop secondary (TBI induced) injuries and/or syndromes due to the bodies reaction to the brain injury. Mental illnesses already present will worsened. Additionally, dormant illnesses/syndromes carried in the patient's genetics may be "turn on."
Depression is a common secondary syndrome after a brain injury. It can develop for several reasons: a chemical imbalance after the injury, dealing with chronic symptoms, loss of preTBI life, etc. Let's face it, the aftermath of a brain injury is depressing and scary. Depression a normal part of a brain injury and should be taken just as seriously as any other secondary syndrome.
Symptoms of depression are:
Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
Treatments for depression include but are not limited to therapy (CBT), therapy with medication (medication should only be used in extreme cases and always alongside therapy) and stress controllers such but not limited to yoga and meditation. For more information on depression please visit the Mayo Clinic' page.
Dysautonomia is a disorder of autonomic nervous system (ANS) function that generally involves failure of the sympathetic or parasympathetic components of the ANS, but dysautonomia involving excessive or overactive ANS actions also can occur. For more information visit the Cleveland Clinic’s Page.
Epilepsy is a central nervous system (neurological) disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.
A staring spell
Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
Loss of consciousness or awareness
Psychic symptoms such as fear, anxiety or deja vu
See the Mayo Clinic's page for more information
Essential tremor is a nervous system (neurological) disorder that causes involuntary and rhythmic shaking. It can affect almost any part of your body, but the trembling occurs most often in your hands. Description by the Mayo Clinic. See the Mayo Clinic's page for more information
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia amplifies painful sensations by affecting the way your brain processes pain signals.
Symptoms of fibromyalgia include:
Widespread pain. The pain associated with fibromyalgia often is described as a constant dull ache that has lasted for at least three months. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
Fatigue. People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they report sleeping for long periods of time. Sleep is often disrupted by pain, and many patients with fibromyalgia have other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
Cognitive difficulties. A symptom commonly referred to as "fibro fog" impairs the ability to focus, pay attention and concentrate on mental tasks.
For more information on Fibromyalgia visit the Mayo Clinic’s Page.
Leaky Gut, also know as increased intestinal permeability, is a digestive condition in which bacteria and toxins are able to "leak" through the intestinal wall. Symptoms include:
Chronic diarrhea, constipation, gas or bloating
Arthritis or joint pain
Poor immune system
Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD
Headaches, brain fog, memory loss
Skin rashes and problems such as acne, eczema or rosacea
Cravings for sugar or carbs
Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease or Crohn's
A migraine is not just a headache. Symptoms can include:
Intense throbbing headache, usually on one side of the head, worsened by movement and lasting from 4-72 hours.
Nausea, sometimes vomiting
Sensitivity to light
Sensitivity to noise
Sensitivity to smells
Stiffness of the neck and shoulders.
Pins and needles on one side usually starting in the fingers/ arm, sometimes spreading up into the face
Slurring of speech
Loss of co-ordination
The types of migraines induced by a brian injury vary. Some of the different types are Migraine Without Aura, Migraine With Aura, Migraine Aura Without Headache, Basilar Migraine, Hemiplegic Migraine, Ophthalmoplegic Migraine and Vestibular Migraine. For more information please visit the Mayo Clinic's page
Ocular Damage is very common in TBI patients. It is estimated 50% of TBI patients will need Vision Therapy.
Symptoms can include but are not limited to:
Inability to focus or sustain focus on things that are close up
Inability or difficulty of the eyes to properly track or move back and forth from object to object
Loss of peripheral vision
Feeling out of body
Feeling out of real time
Decreased reaction time
Loss of peripheral vision
Difficulty maneuvering in a crowd
Visual tracking difficulties
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome a.k.a. Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS)
(POTS) is a condition that affects circulation in the body. People with POTS cannot coordinate the balancing act of blood vessel squeeze and heart rate response. This means the blood pressure cannot be kept steady and stable. Symptoms include:
High/low blood pressure
High/low heart rate; racing heart rate
Dizziness/lightheadedness especially in standing up, prolonged standing in one position, or long walks
Fainting or near-fainting
Abdominal pain and bloating, nausea
Temperature deregulation (hot or cold)
Nervous, jittery feeling
Forgetfulness and trouble focusing (brain fog)
Headaches and body pain/aches (may feel flu-like); neck pain
Insomnia and frequent awakenings from sleep, chest pain and racing heart rate during sleep, excessive sweating
Shakiness/tremors especially with adrenaline surges
Discoloration of feet and hands
Excessive or lack of sweating
Diarrhea and/or constipation
To read more on this syndrome visit the Cleveland Clinic's page
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) Disorder
Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders may include:
Pain or tenderness of your jaw
Pain in one or both of the temporomandibular joints
Aching pain in and around your ear
Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
Aching facial pain
Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
TMJ disorders can also cause a clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth or chew. But if there's no pain or limitation of movement associated with your jaw clicking, you probably don't need treatment for a TMJ disorder. For more information see the Mayo Clinics page.