Brain Injury

Every twenty-one seconds, one person in the U.S. sustains a Traumatic Brain Injury.  Each year, over 50,000 people die as a result of a brain injury. As many as 90,000 others are left with a long-term disability. Most of these brain injuries are preventable.

Types of Brain Injuries

Traumatic Brain Injury occurs when an outside force impacts the head hard enough to cause the brain to move within the skull. The force can also cause the skull to break. This type can be caused by direct blows from motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports, physical violence, and firearms. Additional causes include rapid acceleration/deceleration of the head from motor vehicle crashes, physical violence, and Shaken Baby Syndrome. 

Acquired Brain Injury takes place at the cellular level within the brain. This type can be caused by airway obstruction, near-drowning, choking, electrical shock, metabolic disorders, brain  tumors, vascular disruption, seizure disorders, and meningitis.

Symptoms of a Brain Injury

  • A person with a brain injury can experience a variety of symptoms but not necessarily all of the following: dilated pupils, dizziness, slow pulse, poor coordination, lethargy, headache, confusion, ringing in the ears, difficulty speaking, mood changes, respiratory failure, paralysis, vomiting, weakness, and coma.  
  • Most symptoms of acquired brain injuries are very similar to that of traumatic brain injuries. However, there are some difficulties that are experienced more frequently or to a greater degree, such as cognitive impairment, severe behavior problems (depression, hostility, restlessness), and muscle movement disorders.

How to Prevent a Brain Injury

Sometimes even mild brain injuries can cause serious, long-lasting problems.

  • Wear a seat belt. Always buckle your child into a child safety seat or booster seat.
  • Wear a helmet when riding a horse, bike, motorcycle, snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle, as well as when playing a contact sport, batting/running bases, using in-line skates/skateboard or skiing and snowboarding.
  • Avoid falls in the home by using a step stool and safety gates, installing handrails and window guards, using non-slip bathroom mats, and removing tripping hazards such as loose cords.
  • See an eye doctor regularly for a vision check. This helps lower the risk of falling.
  • Make sure the surface on your child's playground is made of shock-absorbing material such as hardwood, mulch, or sand.
  • Keep firearms stored unloaded in a locked cabinet or safe.

A person with a suspected brain injury should contact a physician immediately or go to the nearest emergency room.

Sources

Brain Injury Association of America, CDC, and Washington and Shady Grove Adventist Hospitals. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.

These Health Tips are for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.