Traumatic brain injury, the most common injury in America, is not getting the attention it deserves. There has been a lot of media coverage in the last year on the effects of TBI on soldiers returning from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, there has been little public awareness of how common and devastating these injuries are in the general population. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by external forces that disrupt normal brain function. The result of a TBI may be temporary or permanent damage to the brain. Traumatic brain injuries are among the most common causes of death and disability among young people. The most common cause of death among young people is car accidents.
A traumatic brain injury is often called a “concussion” because it usually occurs when the head strikes an object. There are different types of TBIs. A concussion is a mild form of brain injury. The symptoms of a concussion may include headaches, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, blurred vision, difficulty remembering things, fatigue, drowsiness or irritability, and problems with thinking and learning. As the number of Americans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) grows, so does understanding its effects on people’s lives and their families. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3.8 million Americans have been treated for a TBI in emergency departments, rehabilitation centers, or hospitals. Of these, almost half were injured by falls, nearly a quarter were involved in motor vehicle accidents, and many others were victims of assaults, sports injuries, or work-related accidents. In addition, an estimated 300,000 people sustain a TBI yearly in the United States and suffer long-term or permanent disability.
What is traumatic brain injury?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by external forces that disrupt normal brain function. The result of a TBI may be temporary or permanent damage to the brain. While the most common form of TBI is from a concussion, other forms include intracranial hemorrhage (ICH), subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), diffuse axonal injury (DAI), or penetrating head trauma. Most TBIs are caused by a direct blow to the head or rapid deceleration, such as in a motor vehicle accident. These injuries can occur from sports-related activities, falls, assaults, or gunshot wounds. Many TBIs are preventable. The long-term effects can be severe and debilitating even with proper medical care.
Types of Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries occur when an external force disrupts the brain’s structure. There are three main types of traumatic brain injuries:
Concussion – A concussion is a brain injury caused by a direct blow or jolt to the head. Symptoms include loss of consciousness, confusion, dizziness, vomiting, seizures, headaches, amnesia, and memory problems.
Subdural hematoma – A subdural hematoma is a type of intracranial hemorrhage. This occurs when blood collects between the skull and the brain. Symptoms include headache, vomiting, drowsiness, and seizures.
Diffuse axonal injury – Diffuse axonal injury is a traumatic brain injury that can occur during any injury. Symptoms include loss of consciousness, memory problems, and amnesia.
What is the cause of traumatic brain injury?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by external forces that disrupt normal brain function. A traumatic brain injury result may be temporary or permanent damage to the brain. The most common type of traumatic brain injury is mild traumatic brain injury. Mild traumatic brain injury occurs when the brain is jarred, banged, or shaken, causing brain cells to swell and bleed. Symptoms of mild TBI can include confusion, dizziness, headache, memory loss, nausea, and vomiting. A more serious type of TBI is called a moderate traumatic brain injury. Mild TBI is an injury to the brain with a smaller impact but still causes bleeding and swelling. Symptoms of mild TBI can include headaches, nausea, and vomiting. The third type of TBI is called a severe TBI. Severe TBI is an injury to the brain that has a large impact but is not life-threatening. Symptoms of severe TBI include seizures, paralysis, and loss of consciousness.
How can traumatic brain injury be diagnosed?
A traumatic brain injury can be a very difficult diagnosis to make. While several signs can indicate that someone has sustained a traumatic brain injury, some of these symptoms can easily be confused with other conditions. Many doctors consider a traumatic brain injury a mild traumatic brain injury, meaning that the symptoms are not serious and do not require medical treatment. However, the consequences of a TBI can be devastating, including cognitive impairment, mood disorders, sleep problems, and physical disabilities.
What can you do to prevent traumatic brain injury?
Most injuries are preventable, especially when they occur at home. If you’re a parent, you can keep your children safe by making sure they are wearing their seatbelts, avoiding driving while intoxicated, and keeping their car in good repair. Parents also need to make sure of everything possible to prevent their kids from being exposed to violent video games, bullying, and other potentially dangerous situations. The same is true for athletes and active teens. They can avoid dangerous activities by practicing safe sports and being careful about what they do in the off-season. Parents and caregivers can also help protect their children by getting them into a quality healthcare system, especially if they have a concussion.
Frequently asked questions about traumatic brain injury.
Q: How did you become involved with traumatic brain injury research?
A: I became involved in research after my accident. I was always curious about what happened and wanted to learn more. I could attend a lecture at the hospital where I was treated and saw a presentation from a doctor conducting some research. This was about four years ago, and I became more interested in researching the topic afterward.
Q: Do you still get headaches?
A: Yes, sometimes, but not very often. My doctor told me it could take anywhere from two weeks to six months before the headaches started to disappear.
Q: Have you seen any improvements since participating in the research studies?
A: I’ve improved, but it’s not a miracle cure. The research has helped me understand more about myself and other people. It’s like having a new person in your life to talk to.
Myths about traumatic brain injury
1. Traumatic brain injury causes epilepsy.
2. Traumatic brain injury causes dementia.
3. Traumatic brain injury does not cause memory problems.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are common among athletes, soldiers, motorcyclists, and car drivers. They are usually caused by a direct blow to the head that disrupts the normal flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. The severity of TBI varies widely. Some people may suffer only minor headaches, dizziness, and confusion, while others may experience loss of consciousness, amnesia, coma, or death. Some people survive the initial injury but are left with long-term disabilities.