Head Injury 101: Common Types of TBI and How to Spot Worrying Symptoms

Head Injury 101: Common Types of TBI and How to Spot Worrying Symptoms 

As the saying goes: knowledge is power. Here are some of the most common head injuries and the worrying symptoms to keep an eye on...

Globally, approximately 69 million individuals suffer from a traumatic brain injury (also known as TBI) each year.

It's not always obvious when someone is dealing with a TBI, as it is an invisible illness.

Symptoms can vary drastically, depending on the specific type of TBI someone has sustained as well as other factors like their diet and lifestyle.

If you're not sure if you or someone you love has experienced a traumatic brain injury, keep reading.

Explained below is some important information regarding the different types of TBI. You'll also learn how you can spot common TBI symptoms and what you can do to treat TBI.

Types of TBI

There are several different types of traumatic brain injury an individual can experience. The following are some of the most common types:

Coup-Contrecoup Brain Injury

This is a type of brain injury that is the result of a significant impact on the brain.

The impact is so intense that it causes the brain to crash against the side of the skull opposite the impact site. As a result, this injury causes damage to both the impact site and the opposite side of an individual's brain.

Coup-contrecoup injuries often occur when someone is involved in a car accident. They may also happen as the result of a blow to the head, a forceful fall, or an intense act of violence.


A concussion is perhaps the most well-known type of traumatic brain injury. Concussions occur when the brain is jolted in some way. Concussions can range from mild to severe.

People who suffer from multiple concussions, such as football players, may also experience a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This is a form of brain damage that can permanently alter one's mood, brain function, and behaviour.


A contusion is a bruise brought on by mild bleeding below the skin. These injuries are similar to concussions and often clear up on their own. If they don't stop bleeding, though, surgery may be necessary to address the issue.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

This injury is similar to a concussion, but it is much more serious. DAI occurs when the head moves so violently that the brain stem cannot keep up. This causes tears of various sizes in the brain connections.

Second Impact Syndrome

Second impact syndrome sometimes occurs after someone has already experienced a traumatic brain injury. It's also known as recurrent traumatic brain injury. An example might be someone who sustains a blow to the head a few days or months after hitting their head in a car accident, before the initial injury has had the opportunity to heal.

It can make symptoms from the original injury more severe, cause lasting damage, or prevent proper healing. Even if the second injury was not as severe as the first, the effects of second impact syndrome can be devastating. This is why kids who sustain a concussion during sport must avoid contact sports until all symptoms have been resolved in order to prevent lasting or worsening brian damage.

Penetrating Injury

As the name suggests, a penetrating injury involves an object penetrating the brain and the skull. If patients are not treated promptly, or if the brain is punctured in certain spots, penetrating injuries can be fatal. 

Bullets are the leading cause of penetrating injury.

Common TBI Symptoms

Sometimes, it's obvious when someone is dealing with TBI. But most of the time, can't tell if someone is dealing with a serious injury just by looking at them.

The following are some common TBI symptoms you ought to be watching out for in yourself or a loved one after they hit their head:

  • Headaches

  • Confusion

  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy

  • Hearing ringing in the ears

  • Fatigue

  • Blurred vision

  • Changes in mood or behaviour

  • Memory or concentration difficulties

  • Brief loss of consciousness (even if only a few minutes or less)

  • Light or sound sensitivity

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

In moderate or severe cases, individuals might also have slurred speech, seizures, or enlarged pupils. Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs is common, too, as is a prolonged loss of consciousness.


TBI Treatment Options

If you think you've suffered a TBI, or if someone you love is exhibiting worrying TBI symptoms, it's important to seek medical care right away. The sooner you can get to a doctor, the better the prognosis will be.

Recovery from TBI can take quite a long time, even in the case of mild TBI. In fact, I’d go so far as to say there is no such thing as a “mild” TBI. Any TBI is serious and requires the right supports.

The good news, though, is that there are a lot of changes you can make to your lifestyle to treat TBI and speed up the healing process.

The following are some holistic treatment options that can be very beneficial to those with TBI:


Often, one of the best things you can do when recovering from TBI (or any injury, really) is to make sure you're getting plenty of rest. Try to clear your schedule as much as you can and make sure you're getting adequate sleep each night. 

Sleep is when healing takes place - brain cells regenerate, damaged or destroyed cells are removed, and connections between neurons are strengthened. Without ample rest, these crucial healing processes cannot take place.

Gentle Movement

You definitely shouldn't try and run a marathon or hit up a kickboxing class after experiencing TBI. But gentle forms of movement like yoga, light stretching or walking can speed up the recovery process and help you feel better faster.

Omega-3 Supplementation

Supplementation with fish oil, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, is great for the brain and can promote faster healing and reduced inflammation. You can also increase your consumption of foods rich in omega-3s, such as wild Alaskan salmon.

Creatine Supplementation

Creatine is another supplement that can boost cognitive function in some people. It may also help to lower your risk of dealing with complications related to your injury.

Dietary Changes

Dietary changes can have a huge impact on your ability to recover. [quote]

The proper nutrients are crucial for feeding your body and brain alike. Make sure you're eating plenty of foods that reduce inflammation, including berries, broccoli, red peppers, and dark chocolate. Steer clear of highly processed foods, fried foods, and foods high in sugar, as well.

Start Treating TBI Today

Are you struggling with the symptoms of one of these types of TBI? Do you have a loved one who was recently injured?

Once you spot the symptoms of TBI, it's important to take action right away. The sooner you start addressing the issue, the greater the likelihood of recovery.

The good news is that you don’t have to go through this alone. If you need nutritional support after a TBI, contact me to learn what a neuronutritionist can do to help your recovery process. 

When it comes to recovering from TBI, your diet and the nutritional supplements you use can play a key role. If you've never thought about the way the things you eat and drink affect your brain health, now's the time to start!

Contact me today to learn more about my meal plans and other holistic nutrition services that can help you recover and start feeling your best.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and value your feedback. Let me know what you think by dropping me a line or commenting below. 

And if you haven’t already done so, please sign up to receive my newsletters for more information about brain health, neuronutrition, lifestyle tips, and nutritional advice. Of course, if I can help you or a loved one with a TBI, make an appointment to see me today!