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Teen experiencing TBI

How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for TBI Can Help Ease Psychological Changes After a Brain Injury

by Aviv Clinics
November 15, 2022
Teen experiencing TBI

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Every year, 1.5 million Americans suffer from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can include mild TBIs or concussions

A TBI can trigger various changes beyond the physical effects. Several “invisible” or emotional symptoms often lie beneath the surface, causing significant struggles among those suffering from TBIs. 

These psychological impacts are harder to pinpoint. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions are complex, intangible processes. There isn’t necessarily one remedy that will resolve long-lasting psychological effects.

If you have sustained a TBI and have been experiencing behavioral and emotional shifts like depression, anxiety, or irritability, you are not alone. The good news is that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can provide genuine results when used with other treatments. And the Aviv Medical Program carries the data to prove it. 

Keep reading for all the key details on using hyperbaric oxygen therapy for TBI and how it can help ease psychological changes after a brain injury. 

What Happens to the Brain When You Have a TBI? 

Psychological changes can occur when the brain’s frontal lobe sustains damage, whether caused by a sports injury, a fall, or an accident. This region of the brain manages emotions and personality traits. After a TBI, an individual might begin acting differently, have uncharacteristic emotional outbursts, and other side effects.

Since blows to the head often cause more severe TBIs, another side effect may be amnesia, which can spare the patient the traumatic memories of the incident.

6 Common Psychological Effects Associated with a TBI

Often, patients and their loved ones don’t realize their behavioral and emotional shifts are the result of a brain injury. Symptoms can materialize days or weeks after the original trauma. Blows to the head may also cause amnesia of the event, which can also make it difficult to connect a head injury with psychological effects.

A lack of understanding makes navigating psychological changes even more difficult. However, there are six common signs you can watch for.

1. Anxiety

Anxiety is common in those with moderate-to-severe TBI. It manifests differently for everyone, but most people experience worry and fear. 

Anxiety can also show in physical ways, causing symptoms like:

  • A racing heart 
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Shaking 

Certain events/activities might also trigger anxiety, including:  

  • Large social situations (e.g., being in a crowd)
  • Sudden or unexpected changes in plans
  • Feeling rushed
  • Situations that merit fast thinking or a lot of attention

2. Depression

Depression involves feelings of sadness, grief, and worthlessness. These emotions might make you: 

  • Feel tired or frustrated more than usual.
  • Experience changes in sleep and eating patterns.
  • Withdraw from friends and family.
  • Feel less joy from favorite activities.
  • Show aggressive behavior (67% of first-time TBI patients sought treatment within three months for aggression).  

3. Mood Shifts

Emotions can be difficult to manage after a TBI. Depending on the impact, TBIs can change how you feel or express emotions. For example:

  • You might be full of excitement or joy one moment, followed by feelings of devastation or sadness the next. 
  • You might have unpredictable moments of laughing or crying—emotional expressions that have nothing to do with what you’re feeling or what’s happening around you.
  • You might exhibit childlike or aggressive behaviors after a brain injury, potentially having emotional outbursts or feelings of impulsiveness.

4. Paranoia

The average onset of paranoia occurs four to five years after a TBI. Paranoia causes people to become unusually defensive, often believing they’re under threat when little to no evidence of an actual threat exists.

Other signs of paranoia include: 

  • Trouble admitting faults
  • Detachment or social isolation
  • Doubting the loyalty of others
  • Holding grudges

5. Personality Disorders

Some people may develop personality disorders after TBIs. A personality disorder is a mental health condition involving disruptive thinking and behavior patterns. 

Someone with a brain injury and narcissistic personality disorder may have an inflated sense of self-importance and an excessive need for admiration. Roughly one in 10 patients with TBI show symptoms of a personality disorder.

6. Executive Dysfunction 

Executive dysfunction is a behavioral symptom that makes it challenging to manage thoughts, emotions, and actions. Symptoms might include: 

  • Having trouble paying attention 
  • An inability to prioritize tasks 
  • An inability to plan for and remember future events (i.e., always being late to events/activities)
  • Having difficulty analyzing and/or processing information
  • Exhibiting poor judgment
  • Struggling to make decisions

These symptoms can cause frustration, adding to the mental health challenges outlined above. 

7. PTSD and ADHD

Overlap between TBI and the effects of PTSD and ADHD exists, with studies showing that: 

Developing PTSD from an accident can complicate the TBI recovery process. The injury may inhibit their ability to experience emotional closure after the traumatic event.

Could I Have a TBI and Not Know It?

Yes, it’s possible to have a TBI and not know it. Brain injuries are more common than people realize, and some cases of TBI are never accurately diagnosed. Some of the reasons behind missed diagnoses include: 

  • Mild, random, or generic symptoms that don’t accurately manifest the severity of the injury
  • Remaining conscious after an injury, resulting in the patient feeling like the injury wasn’t severe enough to seek medical treatment

These points cause many to dismiss the notion of getting a CT scan or MRI, which is the first and most vital step in detecting structural damage to the brain. More advanced assessment tools, such as functional MRIs or SPECT scans, can also detect: 

  • Metabolic damage in the brain tissue
  • Brain cells that don’t function properly

Elevate the Quality of Your Life with TBI Rehabilitation 

Your TBI and its effects do not have to be permanent fixtures in your everyday life. TBI rehabilitation programs have proven effective, offering relief for those who have struggled with the impact of this type of injury.

An effective TBI rehab plan often involves hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) in combination with cognitive, nutritional, and physiological protocols. Research illustrates these collective methods work well in repairing areas of the brain after a traumatic brain injury or concussion. 

Aviv Clinics’ HBOT protocol involves an oxygen suite where multiple patients can sit in comfort and breathe 100% pure oxygen through a mask. Medical staff members adjust the oxygen fluctuation levels to trigger the self-regenerative mechanisms of the brain and body. 

The Aviv Medical Program, which can include this unique protocol, can yield multiple changes in the brain, including:

  • Blood vessel formation (angiogenesis)
  • New and stronger neural connections (shows promise in healing anoxic brain damage)
  • Stem cell proliferation

TBI Survivor Stories

Studies illustrate TBIs are detectable and treatable even years after they occur. With Aviv’s personalized therapy programs that can include effective HBOT protocols, patients have experienced structural brain improvements that enhance their psychological health and overall quality of life.

These TBI survivor stories speak for themselves: 

  • Clarissa Rainey – Avid horseback rider and champion Clarissa had memory issues after a car accident. Learn how Aviv helped her get back to optimal health and back in the saddle.

  • Linden Perry – Having undergone multiple sports concussions, 15-year-old Linden turned to Aviv to regain her health and performance. Find out how her customized treatment plan gave her more confidence to thrive academically and athletically again.

Our Florida Traumatic Brain Injury Program Offers Hope

If you or your loved one has experienced psychological changes from a TBI, reach out to a TBI rehab clinic. Aviv Clinics has a diverse medical team to help individuals enhance and nurture their brains and bodies. The results? Fewer limitations and a happy and healthy life. Contact our team today.

Aviv Medical Program provides you with a unique opportunity to invest in your health while you age

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