The Resilient Brain

Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

The Difference Between a Brain Injury and Head Injury

How your brain works and what all brain injuries have in common.

The Beautiful Brain

Your brain is a complex, marvelous, unique connection of nerves, blood vessels and tissues. Its texture is similar to custard in a bowl – soft, pliable and slippery. Yet, it is the center of your nervous system and it receives, processes and sends messages to every cell and every part of your body. The information received is from any of our seven senses: sight (visual), sound (auditory), touch (tactile), smell (olfactory), movement (kinesthetic), taste (gustatory) and intuition (spiritual). The incoming information is initially processed in the protective/reactive (survival) areas of the brain. These areas work in a reactive mode to help regulate our bodies and keep us safe. The autonomic system, without thought, controls actions from regulating the beating of our heart, to adjusting the temperature in our body in order to help us stop in our tracks and freeze in a dangerous situation. The frontal area of our brain allows for decision-making, and is the responsive, thoughtful part of our brain that acts as the braking system to prevent over-reactivity. Thus, for incoming information to move along and be processed, integrated and then sent out (response), the brain must function fluidly. When it does, it is called brain regulation. This means that the brain and its vast network are flexible, resilient, and self-regulating.

Head Injury

By definition, a head injury is an injury to the skull. Over the period of evolution, our skulls have been developed and designed to protect our brains. We have a layer of hair, scalp, skull, and several layers inside the skull to safeguard the brain. These protective layers make it possible for a person to run as fast as they can into a tree or door without having any injury to their brain. Yes, if you actually did this you would cause injury to your scalp or skull and may have bruises to either one, but your brain will not be injured

Brain Injury

A brain injury, on the other hand, can be the result of a head injury. Although the skull may not be injured, the brain is jostled back and forth inside the skull in a force strong enough to cause shearing and tearing of the nerves in the brain. Brain Injury (BI) by definition is injury to the brain that causes neurological dysregulation, meaning that the brain is not functioning properly. This can result in ongoing physical, emotional, and thinking problems. With this knowledge, in 1994 the World Health Organization adopted terms more descriptive of actual injuries to the brain. Acquired brain injury (ABI) is used to describe any damage to the brain not present at birth. A type of ABI called traumatic brain injury (TBI) includes any damage to the brain caused by an external force. The following is a list of the various types of brain injury:

  • Concussion
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysm
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson Disease
  • Dystonia
  • Myoclonic Disorder

What do all of these types of brain injury have in common? How they affect you, by way of physical issues, cognitive issues, behavioral and/or emotional issues. In future blogs I will be going in-depth in each of the various areas of brain injury, along with addressing each of the specific symptoms and how they can be treated either through conventional, complimentary or alternative methods. 

Diane Roberts Stoler, Ed.D., is a Neuropsychologist, Board Certified Health Psychologist, Board Certified Sports Psychologist, and Trauma Therapist with over 35 years experience.

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