Facts About Traumatic Brain Injury

A person’s life can be radically and significantly affected by a brain injury. There are various causes for brain injury; nevertheless, the effects of brain injuries are quite similar.

The brain is the organ that controls a person’s ability to think, move, talk, and even breathe. Aside from being in control of a person’s senses, personality, memory and emotions, the brain is also the organ that allows every single organ of the body to function, even when he or she is asleep.

Depending on the cause of the injury, brain injuries are classified as traumatic or acquired.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Despite what you might think, the term “traumatic” here does not refer to emotions; in this case, it refers to the mechanical cause of the injury. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury that is caused by an external force, such as a bump or blow to the head or a penetration of the skull. It may result in a reduced or altered state of consciousness, and which cause impairment of physical functions and cognitive abilities. Not all blows to the head result in a traumatic brain injury; the severity can range from mild to severe. Mild TBIs are commonly called concussions.

It’s important to note that traumatic brain injuries are not:

  • Hereditary – offspring cannot inherit it from their parents
  • Congenital – a person cannot be born with it
  • Degenerative – will not cause a person’s brain to deteriorate

On the other hand, acquired brain injuries are the result of some medical conditions such as encephalitis, tumors, strokes, aneurysms, meningitis, metabolic disorders, and anoxia (lack of oxygen during a surgery, near drowning, or drug overdose).

Results of a Traumatic Brain Injury

The results could vary and include changes in terms of physical, mental or behavioral functions, depending on the nature of the injury.

Physical impairments may include:

  • Paralysis (partial or complete)
  • Seizures
  • Loss or altered sense of sight, smell, taste, touch or hearing

Cognitive impairments may include:

  • Difficulty speaking or writing
  • Difficulty understanding speech of writing
  • Inability organizing thoughts and ideas
  • Difficulty participating in conversations

Mental impairments may include:

  • Memory
  • Concentration
  • Language
  • Reasoning
  • Learning
  • Decision-making
  • Problem-solving
  • Organization
  • Multitasking

Depression, mood swings, a noticeable personality change, anxiety, lack of empathy for others or impulsiveness, are also some of the things to watch out for in a traumatic brain injury.

Common Traumatic Brain Injury Causes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls were the leading cause of TBI in 2013, accounting for 47 percent of all TBI-related ED visits, hospitalizations and deaths in the United States. Other leading causes include being struck by or against an object, motor vehicle crashes, and intentional self-harm.

Preventing TBI

Since there is no sure-fire way to cure TBI, prevention is the best approach. Exercising caution when engaging in various activities, such as riding a vehicle or playing sports, can go a long way towards preventing injury. Wear your seatbelts and drive safely. If you’re riding or driving a bicycle or motorcycle, don’t forget to wear a helmet. Use proper headgear and footwear when engaging in sports and recreational activities.

Symptoms of TBI

Some mild TBI symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances

It’s important to note that a person doesn’t have to lose consciousness to have a brain injury. A concussion is considered a mild brain injury.

Some moderate TBI symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness for more than one hour but less than 24 hours
  • Headaches
  • Speech problems
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty carrying on conversations
  • Impaired reasoning or problem-solving skills

Some severe TBI symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness for more than 24 hours, lasting several days or longer
  • Longer recovery time
  • Significant trouble with thinking
  • Significant speech and language problems
  • Significant trouble with movement

The list above is non-exhaustive. It is important to consult a doctor if you notice unusual changes after an injury.

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