The highly trained and experienced experts at Edward-Elmhurst Health provide comprehensive care for traumatic brain and spine injuries. 

Our emergency physicians and ER staffs at Edward Hospital, Elmhurst Hospital and the Edward Plainfield 24/7 ER work in unison with the Edward-Elmhurst neurosciences team to provide world class:

Learn more about our comprehensive care for the following:

Traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), a form of acquired brain injury, occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue.


Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate or severe, depending on the extent of damage to the brain. A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include: headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, fatigue or lethargy, a change in sleep patterns, behavioral or mood changes, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention or thinking.

A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms, but may also have a headache that gets worse or does not go away, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, an inability to awaken from sleep, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion, restlessness or agitation.


Imaging tests help in determining the diagnosis and prognosis of a TBI patient. Patients with mild to moderate injuries may receive skull and neck X-rays to check for bone fractures or spinal instability. For moderate to severe cases, the recommended imaging test is a computed tomography (CT) scan.


Anyone with signs of moderate or severe TBI should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Because little can be done to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma, medical personnel try to stabilize an individual with TBI and focus on preventing further injury. Primary concerns include ensuring proper oxygen supply to the brain and the rest of the body, maintaining adequate blood flow, and controlling blood pressure.

Moderately to severely injured patients receive rehabilitation that involves individually-tailored treatment programs in the areas of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, physiatry (physical medicine), psychology/psychiatry, and social support.

Approximately half of severely head-injured patients will need surgery to remove or repair hematomas (ruptured blood vessels) or contusions (bruised brain tissue). Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the individual.

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Traumatic spine injury

Traumatic spine injury

A spinal cord injury usually begins with a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures or dislocates vertebrae. The damage begins at the moment of injury when displaced bone fragments, disc material or ligaments bruise or tear into spinal cord tissue.

Most injuries to the spinal cord don't completely sever it. Instead, an injury is more likely to cause fractures and compression of the vertebrae, which then crush and destroy axons (extensions of nerve cells that carry signals up and down the spinal cord between the brain and the rest of the body). An injury to the spinal cord can damage a few, many, or almost all of these axons. Some injuries will allow almost complete recovery. Others will result in complete paralysis.


Spinal cord injuries are classified as either complete or incomplete. An incomplete injury means that the ability of the spinal cord to convey messages to or from the brain is not completely lost. People with incomplete injuries retain some motor or sensory function below the injury.

A complete injury is indicated by a total lack of sensory and motor function below the level of injury. People who survive a spinal cord injury will most likely have medical complications such as chronic pain and bladder and bowel dysfunction, along with an increased susceptibility to respiratory and heart problems. Successful recovery depends upon how well these chronic conditions are handled day to day.


Improved emergency care for people with spinal cord injuries and aggressive treatment and rehabilitation can minimize damage to the nervous system and even restore limited abilities. Respiratory complications are often an indication of the severity of spinal cord injury. About one-third of those with injury to the neck area will need help with breathing and require respiratory support. The steroid drug methylprednisolone appears to reduce the damage to nerve cells if it is given within the first eight hours after injury.

Surgery to relieve compression of the spinal tissue by surrounding bones broken or dislocated by the injury is often necessary, though timing of such surgery may vary widely. A multicenter trial called STASCIS is exploring whether performing decompression surgery early (less than 24 hours following injury) can improve outcomes for patients with bone fragments or other tissues pressing on the spinal cord.

Rehabilitation programs combine physical therapies with skill-building activities and counseling to provide social and emotional support. Electrical stimulation of nerves by neural prosthetic devices may restore specific functions, including bladder, breathing, cough, and arm or leg movements, though eligibility for use of these devices depends on the level and type of the spinal cord injury.

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke