Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury or TBI is the result of external mechanical force acting upon the brain, such as a severe blow or hit. Based on severity, TBI is graded as mild, moderate, or severe. Grades depend on one’s level of consciousness according to the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). While mild cases may lead to brief alterations in mental status, severe cases may lead to permanent disability or death.

Epidemiology and Leading Causes

Each year about 52,000 deaths and 275,000 hospitalizations result from traumatic brain injury according to the Centers for Disease Control or CDC. Falls account for 35% of all TBI-related emergency visits. Blunt force trauma (16.5%) and motor vehicle accidents (17%) represent the second and third leading causes respectively.  Motor vehicle traffic injuries account for the most TBI related deaths.

Signs and Symptoms of TBI

Signs and symptoms of TBI range in severity and may be segmented into four distinct categories:

  • Memory-Related Symptoms
    • Difficulty/Delays with memory recall
    • Difficulty/Delays with directed attention
    • Difficulty/Delays interpreting new information
  • Physical Symptoms
    • Headache
    • Blurry/Impaired Vision
    • Lightheadedness/Dizziness
    • Nausea & Vomiting
    • Sensitivity to Light
    • Difficulty with balance
    • Fatigue
  • Emotional Symptoms
    • Emotional Instability/Mood Swings
    • Irritability
    • Sadness
    • Anxiousness
  • Sleep-Related Signs
    • Trouble falling asleep
    • Sleeping more than usual
    • Sleeping less than usual

Recovery and Treatment At NYU Winthrop University Hospital

While its effects may be serious, early identification and treatment of severe traumatic brain injury can lead to major improvements in patient outcome. Advances in imaging, critical care practices, and trauma systems have led to drastic decreases in TBI-related mortality over the last 25 years.

Our trauma center features the latest diagnostic technology, including the newest generation multi-slice CT scanner, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic resonance angiography, and two fully equipped interventional radiology suites. These devices allow for swift diagnosis of life-threatening conditions and qualify Winthrop as a Level I Regional Trauma Center.

Our fully equipped operating suites and round-the-clock staffing means that any patient requiring emergency neurosurgery receives expert, immediate attention. Each year, countless lives are saved thanks to the quick response of professionals in the Institute for Neurosciences.

Our Team

Lee Tessler, M.D., F.A.A.N.S., F.A.C.S. 

Chief, Division of Neurosurgery