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Brain damage: signs and recovery

Learn how to sport the signs of brain damage.

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July 31, 2022
5 min read

At Heights, we're passionate about keeping your brain happy and healthy, through our Smart Supplement and hub of braincare wisdom. That said, we know we can't keep brains wrapped in bubble wrap and injuries do happen. Brain damage is a serious health condition that occurs when a person suffers a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Recovery for brain damage depends on where the injury occurred and what type it was, so there's no guarantee that someone will make a full recovery in all cases. But with proper treatment and therapy, most people who suffer from brain damage are able to make significant improvements in their quality of life and sometimes even return to normal functioning.

In this article, we'll look at what brain damage is, how to spot the signs, and the importance of getting the right treatment.

Article breakdown

What causes brain damage?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when an external force causes damage to the brain. It's more common than you might think; an estimated 1.5 million Americans survive a brain injury each year.

There are three categories of TBI: mild, moderate, and severe.

  1. A concussion is a mild TBI; it's caused by a blow to the head that disrupts normal brain activity but doesn't cause any structural damage.

  2. A closed head injury is a moderate TBI; it occurs when there's no penetration of the skull, but there is at least some bruising or swelling within your cranium as well as some degree of impact on your cognitive functioning.

  3. A penetrating head injury is a severe TBI; this type of traumatic brain injury occurs when something penetrates into your skull and damages the brain tissue underneath—this could be from anything from a bullet shot through your temple all the way down to falling off a ladder onto concrete with enough force (like in Jackass).

What happens if the brain is damaged?

The severity of these injuries depends on how much bleeding occurs inside and outside of the brain, which is why doctors do CT scans right away—they want to see if there's any bleeding or swelling so they can treat it before it gets worse.

Brain damage symptoms

The symptoms of brain damage can be difficult to recognise, and they can vary widely from person-to-person. Some common signs of brain damage include:

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Cognitive problems, including difficulty making decisions and paying attention to detail

  • Memory loss or impaired ability to learn new information

  • Personality changes such as increased irritability or aggressiveness; angry outbursts; being withdrawn from family/friends and other people in general

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Blurred vision

  • Nausea

  • Sleep problems

  • Trouble with balance headaches, dizziness, cognitive problems, and personality changes.

Let's take a closer look at two of these signs:


A headache is one of the most common symptoms of traumatic brain injury, but it's not necessarily a sign that you have suffered a concussion or another type of injury.

It's important to note that many people experience headaches as part of their normal daily lives — especially if they were injured when young or have high blood pressure — so don't assume that any headache you experience is related to an injury unless you experienced it at the time of impact (for example, if you hit your head on something).


Some people feel dizzy immediately after experiencing trauma; others do not notice this symptom until several days later. Dizziness can result from damage in any part of the brain that controls balance and coordination; for example, damage near your temporal lobes could cause vertigo while damage in areas near your occipital lobes could cause problems with depth perception.

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How can you tell if you have brain damage?

If you're concerned about yourself or a loved one, you may have questions about how to identify the signs of brain damage. The following are some of the most common indicators:

Signs of concussion

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that can cause loss of consciousness, amnesia or confusion (a period when you can't remember what happened). It's also possible for someone who has had a concussion to experience headaches, dizziness and balance problems for weeks after the accident. If you or your loved one has any of these symptoms after a fall or accident, it's important to seek medical attention immediately.

Signs of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Mild TBIs often produce headaches or dizziness but may not cause any other abnormal behavior in adults who have them, however, children or teens may show warning signs such as irritability and drowsiness during recovery from an episode like this. Adults could exhibit personality changes after suffering such an injury as well.

Signs of severe traumatic brain injuries (STBI)

People with STBIs may lose consciousness or have convulsions or seizures. Their speech can become slurred, and they're likely to be very confused and might not even remember what exactly happened.

Can the brain recover from damage?

Like many injuries, the timeframe for recovery from brain damage varies by person. It depends on the severity of your injury and how well you heal, as well as several other factors.

In general, people who are younger when they suffer a TBI tend to recover more quickly than those who are older. Some types of treatments may help speed up recovery time in some cases; others might slow it down.

How to heal brain damage

Treatment for brain damage may include physical and occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychological counseling.

Medications such as anti-seizure medications may also be prescribed to treat epileptic seizures or sleep disorders. Surgery may be performed to remove tumors, hematomas (lumps of blood), or other complications from the brain.

Rehabilitation includes physical training to help you regain lost functions while improving your quality of life.

Know the symptoms of brain damage and seek treatment as soon as possible

Remember that there are many types of brain injuries, and not all of them cause similar symptoms. If you think someone has brain damage, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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