This year, 2.5 million people will suffer a brain injury. More than 50,000 of those cases will result in death. The scariest part? Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) don’t discriminate – everyone is constantly susceptible.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines a TBI as an injury “caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.” It’s important to note, however, that not all hits to the head result in a TBI. Conversely, the force of a hit to the body can also cause a traumatic brain injury.
TBIs range from mild to severe, potentially causing a temporary disruption of brain cells or physical damage including torn tissues, bleeding and bruising. These can lead to long-term complications and possibly death.
The psychological and physical effects of a TBI vary based on the person, injury and degree of trauma. Some signs appear initially but other symptoms may take weeks to appear. Severe TBI symptoms include persistent and worsening headaches, nausea, seizures, coordination loss and clear fluids coming from the nose and ears, among others. Additionally, mental dysfunctions such as slurred speech, coma and profound confusion are signs of a severe traumatic brain injury.
Mild TBI symptoms involve both physical and sensory complications, including fatigue, dizziness, having trouble sleeping or sleeping more than usual, blurred vision, ringing in the ears or light/sound sensitivity.
At approximately 25 percent, most diagnosed TBIs are mild and commonly referred to as concussions. A concussion occurs when brain function is disturbed after a violent shaking or jarring of the head.
A traumatic brain injury is most commonly caused by falling, motor vehicle accidents, assault or sports-related activity. The damage done to the brain after sustaining a TBI can occur in many different areas. One point of damage may occur directly beneath the place of impact, but if a severe jolt causes the brain to move back and forth, creating multiple injury sites. Cellular structures in the brain may tear with a severe spinning or rotational motion.
There are many causes, symptoms and effects of traumatic brain injuries, ranging from minor to dangerous, but one thing remains – each injury should be monitored and taken seriously to ensure the best care and fastest recovery period.