What is Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injuries typically result from accidents in which the head strikes an object. However, other brain injuries, such as those caused by insufficient oxygen, poisoning, or infection, can cause similar outcomes. The term traumatic brain injury (TBI) refers to injuries to the brain that are caused by some form of traumatic impact. Depending on the cause and severity of the brain injury, brain damage can range from mild to severe.
In more serious cases of traumatic brain injury, complications can be fatal. While the severity of traumatic brain injuries varies, the long-term effects are often devastating and life-altering.
Traumatic brain injury is sudden, non-congenital physical damage to the brain from an external force that temporarily or permanently disrupts normal brain function. Brain characteristics and functions that can be affected include consciousness, speech and language, memory, mobility, personality and others. Because the brain controls all bodily functions, any damage to the brain, regardless of severity, can impair physical and psychological activity.
Initial symptoms of a traumatic brain injury may include headache, blurred vision, seizures, dizziness, confusion, paralysis, loss of consciousness, memory loss or coma.
Mild traumatic brain injury victims may experience a brief loss of consciousness, temporary memory loss, headache, slurred speech or dilated pupils. Moderate to severe brain injury victims may lose consciousness for an extended period of time (more than 30 minutes) and have long-term memory loss, seizures or convulsions, nausea or vomiting, limb paralysis, vision loss, hearing loss or bowel control loss. When a person sustains a blow to the head, it is imperative that he or she receive immediate medical attention, regardless of the immediate symptoms of the injury.
Traumatic brain injuries are typically caused by blows to the head, collision between the brain and the inside of the skull, or both. Some of the most common causes of traumatic brain injury include falls, car accidents and assaults. Car accidents account for more than half of all traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, and are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in people under the age of 75. Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in people over 75 years old. Additionally, about 20 percent of brain injuries result from violent acts such as firearm assaults or child abuse. Sports-related accidents account for about 3 percent of all traumatic brain injury cases.