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

  • Temporary confusion

  • Psychic symptoms such as fear, anxiety or deja vu

    See the Mayo Clinic's page for more information

Essential Tremor

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

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

  • Nutritional deficiencies

  • Poor immune system

  • Depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD

  • Headaches, brain fog, memory loss

  • Excessive fatigue

  • 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.

  • Blind spots

  • Flashing lights

  • Zig-zag patterns

  • Pins and needles on one side usually starting in the fingers/ arm, sometimes spreading up into the face

  • Slurring of speech

  • Muscular weakness

  • Loss of co-ordination

  • Confusion

  • Lose consciousness

The types of migraines induced by a brian injury vary. Some of the different types are  Migraine Without AuraMigraine With AuraMigraine Aura Without HeadacheBasilar MigraineHemiplegic MigraineOphthalmoplegic Migraine and Vestibular Migraine. For more information please visit the Mayo Clinic's page

Ocular Damage

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:

  • Difficulty reading/writing/driving

  • 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

  • Convergence insufficiency

  • Feeling out of body

  • Feeling out of real time

  • Decreased reaction time

  • Loss of peripheral vision

  • Light sensitivity

  • Fog

  • Freezing episodes

  • Difficulty maneuvering in a crowd

  • Visual tracking difficulties

  • Hallucination

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

  • Chest pain

  • Dizziness/lightheadedness especially in standing up, prolonged standing in one position, or long walks

  • Fainting or near-fainting

  • Exhaustion/fatigue

  • Abdominal pain and bloating, nausea

  • Temperature deregulation (hot or cold)

  • Nervous, jittery feeling

  • Forgetfulness and trouble focusing (brain fog)

  • Blurred vision

  • 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

  • Exercise intolerance

  • 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.