Glossary of Terms

 

Headway UK - Common Brain Injury Terms

https://www.headway.org.uk/common-brain-injury-terms.aspx

 

 

ACQUIRED BRAIN INJURY (ABI)   

Acquired brain injury covers all situations in which brain injury has occurred since birth

 

ABIFN

Acquired Brain Injury Forum Northants

 

AMNESIA

Loss of memory that can happen after a person has a head injury.

 

ANEURISM/ ANEURYSM

Swelling or dilation of an artery due to a weakened wall.

 

ANOSMIA

Loss of sense of smell.

 

ANOXIA

Complete oxygen starvation. A condition in which the oxygen supply to the tissues is cut off completely. Partial loss of oxygen supply to the tissues is known as HYPOXIA. 

 

APATHY

A direct result of brain injury to frontal lobe structures which concern emotion, motivation and forward planning. 

 

APHASIA/ DYSPHASIA

Difficulty understanding or expressing language as a result of damage to the brain.

 

APRAXIA/ DYSPRAXIA

Inability to plan and perform purposeful movements, while still having the ability to move and be aware of movements.

 

ARTERAL LINE

A very thin tube (catheter) inserted into an artery to allow direct measurement of the blood pressure, the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood.

 

ARACHNOID

The middle of the three membranes covering and protecting the brain and spinal cord. The arachnoid membrane lies below the DURA mater and directly above the SUBARACHNOID space.

 

ATAXIA

Abnormal movements due to loss of co-ordination of the muscles. 

 

ATHETOSIS

Abnormal writhing movements, particularly of the hands, seen in a number of brain disorders and following brain injury. 

 

AXON/DENDRITES

Parts of nerve cells in the brain which look like small hair tentacles. The cells receive information via the dentrites and communicate with each other by passing electrical signals down the axons and releasing chemical signals at their ends.

 

BASAL GANGLIA

Collections of grey matter in the deep areas of the brain, below the cerebral cortex. They are involved in the control of movement and injury may produce a disturbance resembling Parkinson's disease. 

 

BLINDSIGHT

A phenomenon in which people who perceptually blind in a certain area of their visual field demonstrate some response to visual stimuli.

 

BRAIN STEM

The lower extension of the brain where it connects to the spinal cord. Neurological functions located in the brain stem include those necessary for survival (breathing, heart rate) and for arousal (being awake and alert). 

 

BRAIN PLASTICITY

The ability of intact brain nerve cells (neurones) to make new connections and, in some cases, take over functions of damaged cells. Neuronal plasticity plays a crucial role in memory and diminishes as a person gets older.

 

BROCA'S AREA

An area of the brain crucial to language processing, speech production and understanding.

 

CARDIAC ARREST

The heart stops beating and there is no effective circulation of blood to the body, so that the brain and other organs rapidly become starved of oxygen. 

 

CATHETER

A tube which is inserted into any body part to withdraw or intoduce fluids.          

 

CEREBELLUM

Area at the back of the brain, below the cerebral hemispheres, involved in the control of movement, co-ordination, posture and balance.      

 

CEREBRAL

Concerning the brain.

 

CEREBRAL ANGIOGRAM

An X-ray picture of the blood vessels inside the head. A drug is injected via the groin artery to outline those cerebral vessels. 

 

CEREBRAL ANOXIA 

A complete interruption of the supply of oxygen to the brain. 

 

CEREBRAL CORTEX

The folded layer of grey matter (made up of nerve cell bodies) on the surface of the brain. It is involved in higher brain functions such as sensation and perception, the control of voluntary movement, thought and reasoning, language and memory. 

 

CEREBRAL HEMISPHERES

The right and left halves of the cerebrum. When a brain is examined in the laboratory, most of what can be seen is the cerebral cortex covering the surface of the two cerebral hemispheres. 

 

CEREBRAL HYPOXIA

A partial interruption of the supply of oxygen to the brain, which becomes inadequate to maintain normal brain function.

 

CEREBRAL ISCHAEMIA

A deficiency of blood supply to brain tissue, due to an interruption or reduction of arterial blood flow.

 

CEREBRO-SPINAL FLUID (CSF)

Liquid which fills the ventricles of the brain and surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

 

CEREBRUM

This is the largest part of the human brain, which occupies most of the skull cavity. It is made up of the two cerebral hemispheres.

 

CEREBELLUM                                                                                 

 Located at the back of the head between the cerebrum and the brain stem. The cerebellum is responsible for the coordination of movement and balance and is thought to play a role in emotion.

 

CHOREA

Brief, involuntary jerky movements involving the limbs and face, seen in a number of brain disorders and following brain injury.

 

CLOSED HEAD INJURY 

Damage to the brain where there is no penetration from the scalp or skull through to brain tissue. Often there is no injury to scalp or skull.

 

COGNITION

General term used to cover all areas of intellectual functioning. Includes skills such as thinking, remembering, planning, understanding, concentrating and using language.

 

COMA

 A state of unconsciousness from which a person can’t be roused.

 

COMPLICATION    

Problem that happens as a result of the injury.

 

CONCUSSION

Loss of consciousness for a short time followed by an apparent return to normal.

 

CONFABULATION  

Verbalisations about people, places or events with no basis in reality.

 

 CONTRA COUP

Bruising of the brain tissue in the side opposite to where the impact occurred.

 

CONTRACTURES

Joints and muscles which are not used regularly quickly becoming stiff, and rendering them resistant to stretching.

 

CONVULSION  

A fit or a seizure.

 

CORTICAL BLINDNESS

Loss of visual function resulting from damage to the main visual areas of the brain, which are located in the occipital lobes at the back of the brain.

 

CRANIOTOMY

Surgical removal of the skull in small pieces.

 

CRANIUM

The bony skull which completely engulfs the brain to protect it.

 

CRANIAL NERVES

A set of 12 pairs of nerves originating in the brainstem, the oldest part of the brain. Functions of the cranial nerves include control of eye movement and blinking.

 

CT SCAN

CT stands for computed tomography. A CT scan is a computeraided X-ray used to provide clear pictures of the brain.

 

CYANOSIS

A bluish tinge to the skin, caused by a deficiency of oxygen in the blood, and often most apparent around the lips and mouth and in the fingertips.

 

DEMYELINATION        

Loss of the fatty insulating sheath (myelin) surrounding nerve axons, which impairs their function by interfering with their ability to conduct electrical nerve impulses normally.

 

DENTRITE

See AXON.

 

DEPRESSED SKULL FRACTURE

A break in the skull where a piece or pieces of bone are pushed in towards the brain.

 

DIFFUSE BRAIN INJURY

In jury to cells in many areas of the brain rather than in one specific location.

 

DIENCEPHALON

The midbrain. This contains discrete nerve centres including the hypothalamus, which controls appetite regulation, sexual arousal, thirst and temperature control, and some aspects of memory. The diencephalon also contains the thalamus, the body's sensory gateway to the brain.

 

DIFFUSE AXONAL INJURY (DAI)

Widespread tearing of nerve fibres across the whole of the brain.

 

DIPLOPIA

Double Vision.

 

DISINHIBITION

Difficulty in controlling urges and impulses to speak, act or show emotions.

 

DURA

Outermost of the three membranes protecting the brain and spinal cord.

 

DYSARTHRIA

Difficulty speaking because of weakness and lack of co-ordination of the muscles for speech.

 

DYSHAGIA

Difficulty with swallowing.

 

DYSPRAXIA

Inability to plan and perform purposeful movements, while still having the ability to move and be aware of the movement.

 

ECHOLALIA

Limitation of sounds or words without comprehension. This is a normal stage of language development in infants but is abnormal for adults.

 

ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAM (EEG)

EEG is a test used to record any changes of electrical activity in the brain by placing electrodes on the scalp.

 

EMOTIONAL LIABILITY

 Rapid and drastic changes in emotional state (such as laughing, crying or anger) that are inappropriate.

 

EVOKED POTENTIALS

Electrical responses of the brain to stimulation, recorded from the scalp.

 

EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS

The ability to think and reason, to synthesize and integrate complex information and make considered judgements and decisions about what to do in a particular situation.

 

EPILEPSY

There are many varied presentations. Seizure or fit activity involving parts of or the complete body.

 

EXTRADURAL HAEMATOMA

A collection of blood on the surface of the brain similar to a subdural haematoma.

 

FOCAL BRAIN INJURY

Injury restricted to one region (as opposed to diffuse).

 

FRONTAL LOBES

The largest lobes of the brain, occupying the front part of the cerebral hemispheres. As well as containing the areas controlling voluntary movement and speech production, the frontal lobes are involved in the executive functions of thinking and reasoning, the integration of complex information, judgement, decision-making and planning for the future. They also have an important role in social behaviour, personality and emotion.

 

GASTRSTOMY

The creation of an opening into the stomach for the administration of foods and fluids when swallowing is impossible.

 

GLASGOW COMA SCALE

Scale used to assess consciousness after a head injury

 

GLUTAMATE

The major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. Excessive glutamate release (or cascade) following TBI can be a major cause of nerve cell death in the second injury.

 

GREY MATTER

 Nerve cell bodies in the brain, which have a greyish appearance and make up the cerebral cortex.

 

GYRUS (pl. GYRI)                

A ridge of the cerebral cortex (also see SULCUS).

 

HAEMATOMIA

A collection of blood forming a definite swelling which compresses and damages the brain around it.

 

HAEMOGLOBIN

A substance in the red blood cells, which takes up oxygen in the lungs and transports it to the tissues of the body.

 

HAEMORRHAGE

Blood loss, bleeding.

 

HEAD INJURY- MILD/MINOR

Causes brief loss of consciousness for 15 minutes or less with a period of post-traumatic amnesia of less than 1 hour.

 

HEAD INJURY – MODERATE                                      

Defined as being a condition where the patient has been in a coma for up to 6 hours, and a period of post-traumatic amnesia of up to 24 hours.

 

HEAD INJURY – SEVERE  

Defined as being a condition where the patient has been in a coma for 6 hours or more, or a post-traumatic amnesia of 24 hours or more.

 

HEN

Headway East Northants.

 

HIPPOCAMPUS     

A structure on the inner surface of the temporal lobes, which is made up mainly of grey matter and has an important role in memory processes. Damage to the hippocampus may lead to memory problems.

 

HOMEOSTASIS   

The ability or tendency of an organism or cell to maintain internal equilibrium by adjusting its physiological processes. For example, sweating when hot in order to keep the core body temperature at 98.6 degrees Celsius maintains homeostasis.

 

HWUK

Headway UK

 

HYPERBARIC OXYGEN THERAPY                     

A specialized treatment sometimes used in severe anoxic states - particularly after carbon monoxide poisoning - which involves giving pure oxygen at increased pressure in a hyperbaric chamber.

 

HYPOTHALAMUS                                                         

A small structure just above the brain stem. The hypothalamus detects levels of hormones in the blood and controls the pituitary gland's release of hormones in order to keep the levels stable (also see pituitary gland).

 

HYPOPITUITARISM  

The condition in which the pituitary gland doesn't produce adequate levels of one or more hormones.

 

HYPOXIA 

A term applied to that state in which the body tissues have an adequate supply of oxygen. This may be because the blood in the lungs does now receive enough oxygen, or because there is not enough blood to recieve oxygen, or because the blood stagnates in the body. 

 

HYPOXIC-ISCHAEMIC INJURY    

Damage caused by an interruption of oxygen supply (hypoxia) linked with a reduction in the blood flow to the brain (ischaemia), such as occurs when the heart stops beating in a cardiac arrest.

 

IMPULSIVITY

A tendency to rush into something without reflecting or thinking first.

 

INFACTION

Death of cells resulting from an interruption of their blood supply, e.g. as occurs in a stroke.

 

INTRACRANIAL HAEMORRHAGE

Bleeding inside the skull. If it happens, it will usually occur within the first few hours after the injury. The bleeding puts pressure on the brain and is very serious unless treated quickly. This includes extradural and subdural haematomas as well as bleeding into the brain itself.

 

INTRACRANIAL PRESSURE (ICP) MONITOR      

A monitoring device to determine the pressure within the brain. It consists of a small tube (catheter) in contact with the brain or the fluid cavity within it. ICP is measured by means of a metal screw or a plastic catheter connected to an electronic measuring device.

 

LIMBIC SYSTEM  

A group of deep cortical structures connected to the hypothalamus, governing memory, emotions and basic drives, including sex drive.

 

LOCKED IN SYNDROME

A condition in which the patient is awake and retains the ability to sense and perceive, but is unable to communicate except by limited eye movements. This is due to the motor nervous system being paralysed. It can sometimes be confused with persistent vegetative state.

 

MANNITOL                      

A solution which removes water from the brain by accelerating urinary excretion and thus reduces raised intracranial pressure.

 

MINIMUMALLY CONSCIOUS STATE

A state of profoundly altered consciousness seen following a severe brain injury, in which there is some evidence of minimal awareness, although this is far removed from anything approaching normal appreciation of the surroundings or of what is happening.

 

MOTOR CORTEX 

The part of the brain involved in planning and executing voluntary movements. The primary motor cortex lies directly in front of the primary SENSORY CORTEX on the upper surface of the brain.

 

MRI

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging, which is a method of producing sophisticated pictures of any part of the body. It uses magnetic fields and radio waves, not X-rays.

 

MYELIN                                                                          

A fatty insulating sheath, which surrounds nerve axons and improves the efficiency of transmission of the electrical nerve impulses along them.

 

MYOCLONUS                                           

Sudden, shock-like muscle twitches or jerks, seen in various brain disorders and quite common following severe cerebral anoxia.

 

NERVE CELL BODIES

The largest part of a nerve cell. The cell body holds all of the general parts of a cell as well as the nucleus, which is the control centre.

 

NASOGASTRIC

This is the very thin tube that is threaded through the nose and throat into the stomach for giving liquid food and pureed meals. Used if there are swallowing difficulties.

 

NEUROGENIC DIABETES INSIPIDUS

A condition which causes thirst and excessive production of dilute urine due to the pituitary gland not producing enough of the hormone vasopressin (anti-diuretic hormone).

 

NEURALOGICAL PROBLEMS

Neurological problems happen because the nervous system is not controlling a set of actions in the normal way. They can be a sign that the brain has been damaged. The signs to watch for in a person with a head injury include: problems understanding, speaking, reading or writing (since the injury); loss of feeling in part of the body; problems with balance or walking (since the injury); general weakness (since the injury); any changes in eyesight.

 

NEUROSURGEON

A brain surgeon.

 

NEUROSURGERY

Operations on the brain

 

NEURON

This is a nerve cell.

 

NEURO-TRANSMITTERS

Chemicals made in the nervous system that serve as messengers, aiding or interfering with the functions of the nerve cells.

 

ODEMA

Increased water content in specific tissues, causing swelling.

 

OCCIPITAL LOBES

 A region in the back of the brain which processes visual information.

 

OPEN HEAD INJURY

An injury where there is penetration of the scalp and skull through to brain tissue.

 

OPEN SKULL FRACTURE

Where an area of the skull has fractured as a result of the injury and there is a deep cut in the skin over the fracture through the bone which can be seen.

 

PARIETAL LOBES

The part of each cerebral hemisphere primarily concerned with the perception and interpretation of sensation and movement.

 

PERSEVERATION

Uncontrollable repetition of a particular response such as word, phrase or gesture. May also be a tendency to continue or repeat an act or activity after the original stimulus has stopped.

 

PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE (PVS)

A persistent vegetative state (commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as "brain-death") sometimes follows a coma. Individuals in such a state have lost their thinking abilities and awareness of their surroundings, but retain non-cognitive function and normal sleep patterns. Even though those in a persistent vegetative state lose their higher brain functions, other key functions such as breathing and circulation remain relatively intact. Spontaneous movements may occur, and the eyes may open in response to external stimuli. They may even occasionally grimace, cry, or laugh. Although individuals in a persistent vegetative state may appear somewhat normal, they do not speak and they are unable to respond to commands. It is a long-standing condition in which the patients utters no words and does not follow commands or make any response that is meaningful. Also called MINIMUM CONSCIOUS STATE.

 

PIA

One of the three membranes holding the brain together.

 

POST- CONCUSSION SYNDROME

A group of symptoms occurring after mild head injury that may persist for days, weeks or months.

 

POST- TRAUMATIC AMNESIA (PTA)

The period after being unconscious when there may be confused behaviour and no continuous memory of day to day events.

 

PROPRIOCEPTION

The sensory awareness of the position of body parts with or without movement.

 

REFLEX

An involuntary movement that shows that the nerves are working normally.

 

RIGIDITY

This simply means stiffness, resistance to movement.

 

RETROGRADE AMNESIA

The loss of memory of events for a period prior to the injury.

 

SENSORY CORTEX

The sensory cortex is situated in the cerebrum. Different parts of the sensory cortex deal with the sensations experienced in different parts of the body.

 

SHUNT

A device to draw off excess fluid in the brain. A surgically placed tube runs from the ventricles and deposits fluid into either the abdominal cavity, heart or large veins in the neck.  An ‘external shunt’ is a similar device and this drains from the ventricles through a tube into an external reservoir where the drainage may then be measured.

 

SPASTICITY

An involuntary increase in muscle tone (tension).

 

SUBDURAL HAEMATOMA

A build-up of blood and fluid on the surface of the brain. A subdural haematoma may be discovered immediately after a head injury but occasionally it can develop more slowly, for example within several days or weeks. The pressure on the brain causes headaches, drowsiness, confusion, speech problems or problems down one side of the body. People with any of these symptoms should return to hospital quickly so they can be treated.

 

TEMPORAL LOBES

The part of each cerebral hemisphere concerned with sound and language interpretation, and important in memory function.

 

TRACHEOSTOMY

An operation to insert a tube in the neck. Through this tube an adequate air passage can be maintained. It may be necessary to leave the tube in the windpipe for a prolonged period.

 

TREMOR

Regular repetitive movements which may be worse either at rest or on attempted movement.

 

TRIAGE

A system to prioritise patients according to the seriousness of their injuries.

 

UK ABIF

United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum

 

VENTILATOR

A machine that does the breathing work for the unresponsive patient. It delivers moistened (humidified) air with the appropriate percentage of oxygen and at the appropriate rate and pressure.

 

VENTRICLES

Cavities (spaces) inside the brain which contain cerebro-spinal fluid.

 

VESTIBULAR

System in the middle of the ear which senses movement. Injury can lead to dizziness.

 

WERNICKE'S AREA

An area of the brain concerned with producing speech.

 

 

Headway UK - Common Brain Injury Terms

https://www.headway.org.uk/common-brain-injury-terms.aspx

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