Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussion in Adults

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a complex injury with a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities. The impact on a person and his or her family can be devastating. A TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” (i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury). Most TBIs that occur each year are mild, commonly called concussions.

Multidisciplinary Approach to Concussion Care

The Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Program at Cooper University Health Care provides you with expert diagnosis and treatment of concussion.The comprehensive, collaborative efforts of our Neurological Institute and Bone and Joint Institute bring together experts from a wide range of specialties to create individualized treatment plans for each concussion patient, including:

  • Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics.
  • Trauma and Emergency Medicine.
  • Neurosurgery.
  • Neurology.
  • Neuropsychology.
  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
  • Nursing and Social Work.
  • Sports Psychology.
  • Physical Therapy.

Accurate Diagnosis

For individuals with direct trauma to the head, obvious signs of injury, or suspected issues, the treatment team will perform a full neurological, cognitive, and physical evaluation. If neuro-imaging is necessary, Cooper University Health Care has state-of-the-art facilities including the latest technologies in EEG, CT, and MRI scanning.

Leading Causes of TBI/Concussion

According to the Center for Disease Control, the leading causes of TBI are:

  • Falls.
  • Motor vehicle/traffic crashes.
  • Struck by/against events.
  • Assaults.

Signs and Symptoms of TBI/Concussion

Most people with a concussion have a good recovery from symptoms experienced at the time of the injury. But, for some people, symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer. In general, recovery may be slower among older adults, young children, and teens. Those who have had a concussion in the past are also at risk of having another one and may find that it takes longer to recover if they have another concussion.

Symptoms of concussion usually fall into four categories:





Difficulty thinking clearly               


Fuzzy or blurry vision               


Sleeping more than usual

Feeling slowed down    

Nausea or vomiting

(early on)



Sleep less than usual

Difficulty concentrating

Sensitivity to noise or light

Balance problems

More emotional

Trouble falling asleep

Difficulty remembering new information

Feeling tired, having no energy

Nervousness or anxiety



Some of these symptoms may appear right away, while others may not be noticed for days or months after the injury, or until the person starts resuming their everyday life and more demands are placed upon them. Sometimes, people do not recognize or admit that they are having problems. Others may not understand their problems and how the symptoms they are experiencing are impacting their daily activities.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be difficult to sort out. Early on, problems may be missed by the person with the concussion, family members, or doctors. People may look fine even though they are acting or feeling differently.

When to Seek Immediate Medical Attention

In rare cases, a dangerous blood clot may form on the brain in a person with a concussion and crowd the brain against the skull. Contact your health care professional or emergency department right away if you have any of the following danger signs after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body:

  • Headache that gets worse and does not go away.
  • Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination.
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea.
  • Slurred speech.

The people checking on you should take you to an emergency department right away if you:

  • Look very drowsy or cannot be awakened.
  • Have one pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other.
  • Have convulsions or seizures.
  • Cannot recognize people or places.
  • Are getting more and more confused, restless, or agitated.
  • Have unusual behavior.
  • Lose consciousness (a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously and the person should be carefully monitored).