About 1.7 million people in the United States suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). From a medical perspective, a traumatic brain injury occurs when an external mechanical force causes the brain to not function correctly.
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What causes a traumatic brain injury?
Causes are varied. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, according to the CDC. Statistics indicate about 35 percent of all TBI’s result from a fall, especially among children and the elderly. Falls are responsible for half of all traumatic brain injuries to children under the age of 14 and for 61 percent of those to adults 65 and older.
Vehicular accidents, personal assaults, blasts from explosions, combat injuries, construction accidents, and sports injuries are also common causes of traumatic brain injuries.
How do I know it’s a TBI?
Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury depend upon the person and type of injury. For instance, a high school soccer player who collides with another player may collapse to the ground after impact but remain conscious. If he experiences confusion, blurred vision, lightheadedness, and dizziness, he may have a mild form of TBI. Other symptoms can include ringing in ears, fatigue, mood changes, change in sleep patterns, and difficulty maintaining focus or cognitive thinking. If it’s a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury, there may be nausea, vomiting, pupil dilation, slurred speech, significant loss of coordination and memory, severe headaches, and seizures. It may be difficult to wake this person from sleeping. When anyone experiences impact to the head, it is important to check for these symptoms. If the symptoms are present, seek medical attention immediately. Medical professionals often use the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) to describe the level of consciousness in a person following a TBI.
Are there treatments for Traumatic Brain Injuries?
The first step to treating a traumatic brain injury is to stabilize the patient and make sure no further damage to the brain occurs. Doctors may perform X-rays or a CT scan to check for damage. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, various therapies may be needed. Some TBI’s affect speech and motor skills. If this is the case, specialized therapy sessions will be needed. Some victims of a TBI may need psychological support and therapy. Severe head injuries can require surgery and a long-term recovery plan for resulting disabilities.
Can traumatic brain injuries be prevented?
You may be able to prevent some accidents that cause traumatic brain injuries. Always be cautious when climbing ladders, supervise children at play, and make sure athletes always wear the proper safety equipment while engaging in sports. Wear a helmet when riding a bike, motorcycle or ATV. When driving or riding, buckle up. Seat belts save lives and help prevent many injuries. Never drive under the influence or ride with some that is. Make sure seniors have a safe environment, reducing their risks for falls.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, click here to schedule your free consultation with one of our attorneys.