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   The pages linked in this section of our web site lists medical terms commonly associated with brain injury. Entries  in this glossary have been simplified for ease of understanding by lay persons. Terms in this section were drawn from Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 14th edition, 1981, Mosby's Medical and Nursing Dictionary, 2nd edition, 1986, The Merck Manual, 13th edition, 1977, DSM-IV.  See our Resources page for information on and links to these and other medical reference materials.
     Many of the entries below have been linked to corresponding pages of this site that contain related information on the topic. 
[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [ L] [M] [N]
        [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [ V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]
BALANCE - the ability to use appropriate righting and equilibrium reactions to maintain an upright position. It is usually tested in sitting and standing positions.
     BRAIN The brain has many parts including the cerebral cortex, brain stem and cerebellum. The brain is a very complex organ, it regulates every aspect of human behavior. Everything about ourselves and the environment is experienced through the brain. It has been described as a three pound universe. It is thought to house the seat of the self, the place where the sense of self resides. 
       Damage to the hippocampus interferes with the ability to store 
new memories. Likewise, the ability to use language recognize familiar faces, to count, read and many other higher functions are depemdamt on intact memory functions.Impairments in such basic functions are fundamental to personal identity.
        Wipe out one part of the brain and the person speaks fluent giberish; other damage interferes with the ability to recognize familiar faces. 
BRAINSTEM - the lower extension of the brain where it connects to the spinal cord. Neurological functions located in the brainstem include those necessary for survival (breathing, heart rate) and for arousal (being awake and alert). 
    BALKAN FRAME - a rectangular frame which may be placed over a hospital bed to position or increase mobility. Loops or a trapeze are often hung from the Balkan frame to assist a patient in bed activities and wheelchair transfers to and from the bed. 
    BASIC HUMAN NEEDS -  biologic needs associated with maintaining life; food, clothing, shelter, reproduction and physical safety. 
    BEHAVIORAL INFLEXIBILITY -  rigidity in the way an individual behaves or performs tasks. 
    BIO-FEEDBACK - A process that provides sight or sound information about functions of the body, including blood pressure, muscle tension, etc. By trial and error, one can learn to consciously control these functions. 
    BIZARRE BEHAVIOR - a term used to describe behavior which is considered unusual and inexplicable in common opinion. 
    BLANDNESS -  unperturbed; dull. 
    BLOCKING -  the inability to remember; the involuntary interruption of a train of thought or speech. 
    BOASTFULNESS -  bragging; self-praising; grandiosity. 
  CARELESSNESS -  inattention; negligence; thoughtlessness. 
    CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (CNS) - the CNS includes the brain and spinal cord. The prevailing theory is that CNS cells won't repair themselves. Experiments show, however, that CNS nerves can re-grow and reconnect to appropriate targets. A clinical "fix" for spinal cord injury has not yet been found. 
    CEREBELLUM - the portion of the brain (located in the back) that helps coordinate movement. Damage may result in Ataxia. 
CEREBROSPINAL FLUID (CSF) - a colorless solution similar to plasma protecting the brain and spinal cord from shock. CSF circulates through the subarachnoid space. For diagnosis purposes, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) is used to draw CSF. 
    CERVICAL -the upper spine (neck) area of the vertebral column. Cervical injuries often result in quadriplegia (tetraplegia). 
    CHILDISHNESS -  exhibiting childlike behavior; silly. 
    CIRCUMLOCUTION - Use of other words to describe a specific word or idea which cannot be remembered. 
    CLONUS - A sustained series of rhythmic jerks following quick stretch of a muscle. 
    CLOSED HEAD INJURY -  trauma to the head regardless of severity. Also see Traumatic Brain Injury, Minor Head Injury and Concussion. 
COGNITION -  the mental process involved in knowing, thinking, learning and judging. 
    COGNITIVE DISSONANCE -  individual awareness of inconsistencies in thoughts, feelings, rationale and opinions. 
    COGNITIVE FUNCTION  - an intellectual process by which a person becomes aware of, perceives or understands ideas. 
    COGNITIVE PROCESS -  higher mental functioning; learning, memory, imagination, comprehension, decision making. The means by which an individual becomes aware of people, objects and situations in the environment and their subjective, symbolic meaning. 
    COGNITIVE REHABILITATION - therapy programs which aid persons in the management of specific problems in thinking and perception. Skills are practiced and strategies are taught to help improve function and/or compensate for remaining deficits. 
    COMA -  a state of profound unconsciousness. A state of unconsciousness from which the person is incapable of any conscious action.  Typically, they do not respond to powerful stimulation; lack of any response to one's environment. 
    COMBATIVENESS -  attacking; quarrelsome; argumentative. 
    COMPREHENSION -  the ability of the mind to understand. 
    COMPLETE LESION - an injury with no motor or sensory function below the zone of cord destruction at the site of primary trauma. 
    COMPULSIVE TALKING-  irresistible, repetitive irrational talking. 
    COMPULSIVE WRITING -  irresistible, repetitive irrational writing. 
    CONCENTRATE -  to focus the mind on; to completely fix one's attention on. 
    CONCEPTUAL TRACKING -  the ability to follow a series of abstract ideas or thoughts. 
    CONCRETE THINKING -  a pattern of thought and feeling in which an ability to generalize and abstract is impaired; thinking which is limited to immediate environmental stimuli and/or the literal meaning of the word. 
    CONCUSSION -  a violent blow, jarring, shaking or other non penetrating injury to the brain. Frequently, but not always, accompanied by a  loss of consciousness. Also called Minor Head Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury. Slang terms include: having one's "bell rung," and "ding." 
    CONFABULATION -  the fabrication of experience or situations in a detailed and believable way to cover up gaps in memory.
   CONFIDENTIALITY - a principle which states that personal information about others, particularly patients, should not be revealed to persons not authorized to receive such information.
    CONFUSION -  disorientation regarding time, place and person. Confusion leads to bewilderment, lack or orderly thought and inability to choose or act decisively. 
CONSCIOUSNESS - the state of awareness of the self and the environment. 
    CONTINENT - the ability to control urination and bowel movements. 
    CONTROL -  to use constraint; the conscious limitation or suppression of impulses. 
    CONTRACTURE - the stiffening of a body joint to the point that it can no longer be moved through its normal range. Contracture is a pathologic, involuntary, irreversible shortening of a muscle. 
CONTUSION -  a bruising of the neural tissues of the brain. 
    CONVERSION DISORDER - a neurosis caused by the patient's conscious or unconscious desire to escape or avoid some unpleasant situation or responsibility or, to obtain sympathy or some other secondary gain. Also called conversion hysteria or conversion reaction. In women particularly, the symptoms of traumatic brain injury are sometimes mistakenly diagnosed as conversion disorder. 
    COPING STRATEGIES -  skills developed through experience for life situations. 
    CORTICAL BLINDNESS - loss of vision resulting from a lesion of the primary visual areas of the occipital lobe. Light reflex is preserved. 
    COUP -  a blow to the head at the site of impact. 
    CONTRA COUP -  injury to the brain resulting from a blow to the opposite side of the head. Impact blows to the head cause the brain to be pushed against the inner surface of the skull opposite the side of impact. 
    CT SCAN - computerized axial tomography is a cross-sectional X-ray enhancement technique that greatly benefits diagnosis with high resolution video images, some in three dimensions. 
    CUE - a signal, hint, or direction used to assist a person in remembering,  or performing an activity. 
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