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What's the Connection Between a TBI and Stroke?

Nov 23, 2022 9:34:14 AM

Did you know that information in your brain can travel up to 268 miles per hour? Of course, there are many factors that can affect how your brain works and how quickly you can process information.

Some of those factors include traumatic brain injury (TBI) and stroke. Both of these are serious events by themselves, but is there a connection between the two?

You might be surprised to find out that there is. Keep reading to find out more about the two.

Purple Brain Outline

What's a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury occurs when a sudden trauma causes an injury to your brain. This can include car accidents, hitting your head on an object, and various other injuries that result in an injury to your head.

TBIs can range from mild to severe, and there are various symptoms associated with them.

Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries

There are various types of TBIs. You may have heard of some of them before. While some are more mild, all of them come with unpleasant symptoms that can impact your functioning.

We'll cover a few of the most common types of traumatic brain injuries.


Concussions are one of the most common types of traumatic brain injury. It's estimated that 1.6 to 3.8 million concussions get treated every year for sports injuries or recreational activities.


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However, it's hard to predict how many concussions occur every year because many go untreated.


It's not uncommon for a contusion to occur at the same time as a concussion. A contusion is a bruise on the brain.

Brain Contustions

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Brain Hemorrhages

Brain hemorrhages are focal injuries meaning that they're localized to one area of the brain. A brain hemorrhage is when there is uncontrolled bleeding from the brain tissue or on the surface of the brain.

Brain Hemorrhages

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Intracranial Hematoma

Hematomas can begin to form days or even weeks after a head injury. A hematoma is a collection of blood outside your blood cells.

There are a few different types of hematomas. A blood collection between your brain and skull is an epidural hematoma. A subdural hematoma is when the blood collects beneath the thin layer that protects your brain.

The third type is an intracerebral hematoma. This is when the blood collects in the brain.

Types Of Hematoma

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Coup Contrecoup Injury

One instance where a coup contrecoup injury can occur is with severe forms of whiplash. When you're in an accident, your head and neck get knocked forward and then backward. This is what causes whiplash.

However, if your head gets knocked forward hard enough, your brain can hit the inside of your skull. Then when the force goes the other direction, a second injury can occur from your brain colliding with the back of your skull.

Coutercoup Injury To The Brain

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What's a Stroke?

Strokes are a leading cause of disability in the United States and the fifth leading cause of death. Typically, you hear of older adults having strokes; however, they can happen at any age.

There are various blood vessels that have the job of carrying nutrients and oxygen to your brain. These blood vessels can get blocked by a clot or burst.

If that occurs, it keeps that part of your brain from getting the nutrients and oxygen it needs. When that happens, your brain cells begin to die.

The symptoms partially depend on the type of stroke the person has.

Types of Strokes

Like traumatic brain injuries, there are several types of strokes. In fact, there are five different types of strokes. We'll discuss each one briefly.

Ischemic Stroke

Some of the symptoms of an ischemic stroke include confusion, dizziness, vision loss or double vision, problems speaking or understanding, and sudden weakness on one side of the body.

This type of stroke is the most common and occurs when a blood clot blocks a vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to your brain.

TIA: Transient Ischemic Attack or Mini-Stroke

TIA's have very similar symptoms to ischemic strokes. These get called mini-strokes because the symptoms typically only last for a few minutes or around 24 hours.

The cause of a TIA is a blockage in a vessel that impacts blood flow to your brain. However, in the instance of a TIA that blockage is only temporary.

Hemorrhagic Strokes

Hemorrhagic strokes account for around 13 percent of strokes. This type of stroke occurs when weakened blood vessels rupture and bleed into the surrounding brain.

This type of stroke can come on suddenly. However, they can also increase gradually over a few minutes or a few hours. Some of the symptoms you can experience with this type of stroke are confusion, nausea or throwing up, problems with vision, passing out, confusion, and an intense headache.

Types Of Strokes In The Brain

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Brain Stem Stroke

A brain stem stroke is challenging to recognize when happening. Some of the symptoms of a brain stem stroke include double vision, vertigo, slurred speech, nausea and vomiting, passing out, and problems with central nervous system functioning.

A brain stem stroke is particularly dangerous because it can impact both sides of your body. When this happens, the person gets left in a "locked in" state.

A locked-in state occurs when you cannot move below your neck or speak.

Cryptogenic Stroke

The final type of stroke is a cryptogenic stroke. A stroke gets called a cryptogenic stroke when the cause can't be identified.

Identifying a Stroke

When someone has a stroke, early treatment is imperative. With early treatment, you can reduce the risk of brain damage, disability, and death.

A common acronym used to help people identify the signs of a stroke is FAST.

F Is for Face

With strokes, sometimes you can see it in a person's face. Ask them to smile.

If one side of the face droops, get help immediately.

A Is for Arms

A stroke can paralyze or leave you with weakness on one side of your body. Raise both of your arms.

If one arm drops down, seek help.

S Is for Speech

Pay attention to the person's speech. Have them say a short phrase.

Is their speech slurred? Is it strange? This could be a symptom of a stroke.

T Is for Time

Finally, you need to consider time. If you're experiencing the symptoms discussed, call 911 for help right away. Also, write down the time you began experiencing symptoms.

FAST Stroke Poster | How To Identify A Stroke

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What's the Connection Between a TBI and Stroke?

You can see that traumatic brain injuries and strokes can share some commonalities. The most obvious ones being that they can impact the brain and functioning significantly.

However, there are a few other connections between TBIs and strokes.

Strokes Are a Type of TBI

Not all traumatic brain injuries are caused by trauma. Your brain can get injured from strokes, choking, near-fatal drownings, and seizures.

Each of these events has the potential to deprive your brain of oxygen. This type of brain injury also gets called a hypoxic or anoxic brain injury.

Lack Of Oxygen In The Brain For 5 to 10 Minutes Results In Permanent Brain Damage

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Increased Risk of Stroke After TBI

Recent and past research shows that there's an increased chance of stroke in patients with a TBI. Patients with a TBI have an 86 percent increased chance of a stroke. Research suggests that it's more likely closer to the date of the injury.

The highest risk is in the first four months following the injury. However, it remains a significant risk factor for around five years post-TBI. In addition, it doesn't matter what type of TBI or the severity.

The risk remains the same.

Increased Risk of Hemorrhagic Stroke

Individuals with a TBI have an increased risk of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. Another study showed that there was a two-fold increased risk of stroke in patients with a TBI.

However, the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke is higher than the risk of an ischemic stroke in individuals with a TBI.

Why Does a TBI Increase the Chance of a Stroke?

There are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to answering this question. However, even with the unknowns, there are a couple of potential explanations.

Remember, a hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that's been weakened ruptures. The first theory is that certain head injuries can weaken and damage the blood vessels in your brain.

Because they are weakened, you're at an increased risk of a hemorrhagic stroke. The next theory is that some head injuries can cause problems with clotting.

Problems with blood clotting can cause an ischemic stroke if blood clots block vessels in the brain. However, if your blood is too thin, a brain hemorrhage can occur as well.

Blood Clotting

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Can You Reduce the Risk of Stroke After a TBI?

Are you worried about the increased risk of a stroke after a TBI? Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk.

  1. Recognize the signs of a stroke

  2. Reduce sodium

  3. Monitor blood pressure

  4. Exercise

  5. Decrease stress

  6. Take vitamins

Make Your Health a Priority

Both a TBI and stroke can have a significant impact on your health and life. In addition, a TBI can increase your risk of a stroke. It's important that you recognize the symptoms and take the steps necessary to recover.

If you or someone you know has sustained concussions or a stroke, then you understand how overwhelming the symptoms can become.

Sallie® aims to ease this feeling by being an incredibly easy-to-use and free TBI symptom-tracking dashboard. Using the dashboard at the beginning of one’s recovery can help one to identify symptoms and triggers.

The robust data collection approach includes various varying symptoms for our users to track. If you've experienced a TBI or stroke, using Sallie® to track your symptoms can lead to a better recovery.

Register for Sallie® here.

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