Irene’s Brain Injury Dictionary

When the brain breaks an uncountable number of things can change the injured person physically, cognitively and emotionally. Here follows a list of terms I found useful in my journey to make sense of my traumatic brain injury.

General terms

  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when an external force traumatically injures the brain.
  • Glasgow Coma scale (GCS) is a neurological scale that aims to give a reliable, objective way of recording the level of consciousness of a person after a brain injury. It is also used to assess the severity of the TBI and of the brain damage that tails it.
  • Fatigue is quite common after a TBI. It is a subjective feeling of tiredness which is distinct from weakness, and has a gradual onset. Unlike weakness, fatigue can be alleviated by periods of rest.
  • Post Traumatic Amnesia (PTA) is a state of confusion that occurs immediately following a traumatic brain injury in which the brain injured person is disoriented and unable to remember events that occur after the injury. Hallucinations may also occur.


Possible side effects of a brain injury

  • Ataxia usually occurs because of hemiplegia. It is the lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements and a person, who has it, walks with sluggish, spastic movements.
  • Disinhibition is a common consequence after a TBI. The injured person may show a lack of restraint manifested in several ways, including disregard for social conventions, impulsivity, extreme curiosity and poor risk assessment. I have no filters and blurt out what ever pops into my head, whether it is appropriate or not. Hypersexuality, hyperphagia, and aggressive outbursts are indicative of disinhibited instinctual drives.
  • Hypersexuality is extremely frequent or suddenly increased sexual urges or sexual activity.
  • Hyperphagia refers to excessive hunger or increased appetite.
  • Aggressive outbursts may occur because the patient has difficulty controlling their temper. The patient may portray irritability and even hostility.
  • The Blunted Affect is the scientific term describing a lack of emotional reactivity on the part of an individual who suffered a TBI. They are unable to feel or experience some emotions intensely. It is manifest as a failure to express feelings either verbally or non-verbally, especially when talking about issues that would normally be expected to engage the emotions. It can be permanent or temporary. No one can determine whether a brain injured person will recover from The Blunted Affect. Just after I sustained a TBI, I was unemotional and detached from my family. Again, luckily for me, I recovered after nearly a year.
  • Tinnitus is a constant ringing or buzzing in the ears.
  • Xerostomia is abnormal dryness of the mouth due to insufficient salivary flow.
  • Xerophthalmia is a medical condition in which the eye fails to produce tears. Abnormal dryness of the conjunctiva and cornea of the eye occurs.
  • Strabismus is when the eyes are abnormally alignment; the better known is to refer to someone as having a squint.

There are many more side effects that stem out of a traumatic brain injury and you are welcome to click on the following link in order to read more about brain injury: