About the brain

To understand the impact of your brain injury, you must have an understanding of the brain, including the layers of the brain, their functions and how they work together.

The Brain – the basics

If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury you may have injured specific parts of your brain. To give you an overall understanding of the brain it’s important to look at all of the layers of the brain, their individual functions and how they work together. This will allow you to understand the impact of your brain injury, and work out any questions you may have for your healthcare provider.

The Cerebrum

The Cerebrum makes up the majority of the brain, accounting for around 85% of the brain mass. The Cerebrum is made up of two halves, the right and left hemispheres – which are then divided again into four lobes.

These lobes are:

The Temporal Lobe – the temporal lobe is partially responsible for processing our sensory information including hearing, language and memories. The temporal lobe also contains the hippocampus which is associated with thinking and feeling.

The Frontal Lobe – the frontal lobe is responsible for reasoning, problem-solving and regulating emotions.

The Parietal Lobe – the parietal lobe is responsible for some of our sensory information including touch, temperature and pressure.

The Occipital Lobe – the occipital lobe is the major visual processing area in the brain receiving information from both eyes which it then interprets into things including distance, identity and location.

Illustration of parts of the human brain

The Cerebellum

The Cerebellum is the second largest part of the brain and is responsible for functions relating to posture, balance and coordination. This includes coordinating movement through a number of muscle groups, coordinating eye movement, and gross and fine motor skills.

The Diencephalon

The Diencephalon is the third largest section of the brain. Located at the core of the brain, the diencephalon is the size of a plum and has two major parts – the thalamus and the hypothalamus.

The thalamus receives sensory information from all over the body which it then sends to specific areas of the cortex.

The hypothalamus lies just below the thalamus and is roughly only 1% of the brain mass. The hypothalamus has a number of functions, however, its main function is to ensure the body is stable (i.e. maintaining homestasis). The hypothalamus also responds to stress and controls the secretion of melatonin, cortisol and body temperature over a 24 hour period.

The Brain Stem

The Brain Stem is located at the base of the diencephalon and is made up of the midbrain, pons and medulla. Not only does the brain stem control basic body functions such as breathing, swallowing, heart rate and blood pressure, but it’s also responsible for the flow of messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

The Blood-Brain Barrier

The blood-brain barrier is the protective barrier around the brain. This highly intelligent barrier stops all of the bad stuff (like toxins) from getting into the brain all while allowing the good stuff (such as oxygen) to enter.

 

References and Further Reading

  1. https://www.livescience.com/29365-human-brain.html 
  2. https://www.verywellmind.com/left-brain-vs-right-brain-2795005

Frequently Asked Questions

NSW

New South Wales Government State Insurance Regulatory Authority – Mild Brain Injury Discharge Advice for Adults:

click here

 

VIC

Victoria Government Safer Care Victoria Emergency Care Clinical Network – Mild TBI Fact Sheet: click here

SA

South Australian Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service – Concussion and Mild TBI Discharge Advice for Adults: click here

QLD

Queensland Health Clinical Excellence Division – Concussion Emergency Department Fact Sheet: click here

Queensland Health Clinical Excellence Division – Minor Head Injury without Concussion Fact Sheet: click here

Queensland Health – Minor Head Injury ED Fact Sheet: click here

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service – Mild Head Injury Advice: click here

WA

Government of Western Australia North Metropolitan Health Service – Mild Head Injury Advice: click here

NSW

Sydney Children’s Hospital Network Mild Head Injury and Concussion: click here

QLD

Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service – Infant Mild Brain Injury Concussion: click here

Queensland Health – Minor Head Injury in Children ED Fact Sheet: click here

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service – Head Injury Care After Discharge: click here

What is an Aura in Migraines?

An Aura is a visual disturbance which accompanies a migraine with symptoms of an aura including visual disturbances such as flashing lights, trouble focussing, blind spots or bright zigzag lines. An aura can affect one or both eyes and can last up to an hour.1

Reference
1. https://headacheaustralia.org.au

SA

Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Adolescent Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service: Concussion Infographic:

click here

Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Adolescent Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service: Concussion and Mild Brain Injury:

click here

TAS

Tasmania Government Department of Communities – Concussion Information for Parents Fact Sheet: click here

WA

Perth Children’s Hospital – Head Injury Fact Sheet: click here

What is myelin?

Myelin is an insulating layer that covers the long processes of nerve cells within the brain and nervous system. It’s made up of protein and a fatty substance that allows nerve cells to more efficiently communicate with each other.

How does a free radical work?

When the brain is injured the concentration of some chemicals in specific cells or regions of the brain changes. The altered balance of chemicals can cause free radicals to occur. When a free radical is formed, it works to pull an electron from a molecule, which in turn makes that molecule a free radical. This can cause an unstable domino effect which causes disruption and further damage to the cells and structures of the brain.

What is Persisting-Post Concussion Symptoms (PPCS)?

Persisting Post-Concussion Symptoms is when the symptoms of concussion continue to affect the patient for months or even years following their injury. It is thought that PPCS is more likely to occur in those who have suffered from multiple concussions and there are a range of other risk factors that may increase the likelihood of PPCS.1

For more information on Persisting Post-Concussion Symptoms download our Fact Sheet here.

Reference

Committee on Sports-Related Concussions in Youth; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Institute of Medicine; National Research Council; Graham R, Rivara FP, Ford MA, et al., editors. Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2014 Feb 4. 4, Treatment and Management of Prolonged Symptoms and Post-Concussion Syndrome. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK185342/

What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy?

Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is a neurodegenerative disease that is observed in people who have suffered one or usually multiple TBI, including mild TBI or concussion. Symptoms may not show for years after the injury and the disease can only be conclusively diagnosed post-mortem. In CTE a protein called hyper-phosphorylated tau forms in specific structures in certain regions of the brain. Symptoms include altered mood and behaviours, aggression, depression and control problems. These symptoms may develop into progressive dementia.

What will I know when I have finished the course?
  • What a concussion is
  • When/How it can occur e.g. not just in sport, but in MVA, falls etc
  • What to do if you see or suspect someone has experienced a concussion
  • When to seek medical attention
  • Likely recovery trajectories following injury.
Who is the Concussion Short Course designed for?

The Concussion Short Course has been created for anyone with an interest in concussion. This can include students, athletes, parents, teachers, and those who work or are active within the following categories:

  • People living with a concussion
  • Family and friends of a person living with a concussion
  • People involved in vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, road safety crashes and projects
  • Sporting associations, including coaches, administrators and volunteers
  • School communities
  • Aged care
  • Prison and reform centres
  • Insurance industries
  • Occupational Work Health and Safety Professionals
  • Health care providers
  • Defence Force Staff
  • Emergency Service Staff
  • Domestic and Interpersonal violence organisations
  • Personal Interest in Concussion
Does completing this free online course make me an expert in concussion?

This course is not a professional qualification or accreditation. It provides knowledge and a basic level of concussion education that will make you more confident in your actions if you are a first responder to a concussion. The course provides an overview of what a concussion is, and how to spot a concussion when it occurs (e.g. identify signs and symptoms of concussion) and reinforces the importance of seeking medical attention. It also discusses different recovery trajectories that may be encountered following a concussion and features a variety of downloadable resources that aim to help raise awareness of concussions as well as practical steps that can help facilitate recovery.

How long will the online Concussion Short Course take to complete?

The Concussion Short Course is designed to be able to undertake at your own pace. There is no scheduled start or finish time.

The content within the course is designed to be covered within 1 – 1.5 hours and is completed online.

You will have a personal login to the platform so you may stop and resume at a later day and time.

Why is the Concussion Short Course free?

Connectivity Traumatic Brain Injury Australia is a not-for-profit organisation working to improve the lives of people with traumatic brain injuries of all severities.

We are funded by organisations that support our initiatives to inform and educate the Australian community.

Mild traumatic brain injury is an issue currently very relevant across Australia, so we have created this Concussion Short Course to help the community further understand concussion and its consequences.

What happens after I complete the Concussion Short Course?

At the end of the Concussion Short Course, there will be a multiple choice quiz. To successfully pass the course you will have to achieve an 80% pass mark.

You will be offered the opportunity to purchase a personalised certificate of completion at a cost of $10.

Will I get CPD points for completing the course?

The Concussion Short Course has been accredited by the Australian College of Rural & Remote Medicine as an activity under the 2020 – 2022 Professional Development Framework.

Upon completion of the Concussion Short Course, you will be given the option to purchase a Certificate of Completion which notes 1.5 hours equivalent CPD points.

Otherwise please keep a personal record of the time taken to complete the concussion course if this is a requirement for you.

Is the course based on any other similar courses?

Connectivity commissioned a broad Stakeholder consultation which identified that available training resources could be improved. To our knowledge, there are no other concussion courses that have been designed for a broad audience and feature practical materials to assist someone responding to a concussion injury.