Brain Injury – Numbness in the extremities

In the State of Florida, 18,922 people were hospitalized due to traumatic brain injury in 2012, according to the Florida Department of Health. Brain injuries occur primarily due to physical trauma or deprivation of oxygen to the brain. Symptoms can vary, with some acute symptoms and some health issues becoming permanent or long-term. Numbness in the extremities is a possible result of an injury to the brain, and can be temporary or permanent, depending upon the extent of damage.

The Merck Manual explains causes of numbness, which is defined as a “partial or complete loss of sensation.” Sensations are felt after sensory receptors detect information and transmit signals along pathways in the body. Sensory receptors, or sensory nerve fibers as they are called, will detect a breeze, a touch, vibration, or other contact. The receptors then transmit a signal through the spinal nerve roots, up to the spinal cord, through the brain stem, and into the cerebrum where the signals are processed.

If damage to the white matter of the brain occurs in the parts of the cerebrum which process the signals from the sensory receptors, the brain injury sufferer will no longer experience normal sensation. A sufferer of numbness in the extremities may experience an inability to detect temperature, to feel touch or pain, or to feel vibration. Because position sense, or knowledge of where parts of the body are, can also be affected, problems with coordination, balance, and walking can develop.

Victims of brain injuries should make sure they fully assess all symptoms, including numbness in the extremities, to determine the lasting impact of their injury. A victim whose brain injury was caused by someone’s wrongdoing or negligence should be compensated for economic and non-financial loss, including the costs of adaptive medical devices made necessary by numbness.