September is National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), also known as intracranial injury, is a significant head injury, usually the result of a sudden, violent blow or jolt to the head causing the brain to collide with the skull. The leading causes are falls, motor vehicle accidents, collisions/being struck, and assaults from firearms or blasts. The result is possible bruising of the brain, tears in nerve fibers, and bleeding, and the effects can vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. Mild cases can lead to temporary confusion and headache. Serious injuries can result in unconsciousness, amnesia, disability, coma, and even death.
According to they Mayo Clinic, you should see a doctor if you have suffered any blow to the head, and you should seek emergency medical care if experiencing convulsions, repeated vomiting, slurred speech, or weakness/numbness in the arms, legs, hands, or
feet. Other common symptoms can include:
• Ringing in the ears
• Tiredness and lethargy
• Getting lost easily
• Pain in the neck
• Slowness in thinking, speaking, reading, or acting
• Suddenly feeling sad or angry for no apparent reason
• Sleep pattern changes (sleeping much more or less than usual, or having trouble sleeping)
• Lightheadedness or dizziness
• Easily distracted
• Increased sensitivity to light and sound
• Loss of sense of smell or taste
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one person in the U.S. suffers a significant TBI every 15 seconds, totaling about 2 million Americans annually. About half of these are treated and released from an emergency department; about 230,000 incur hospitalization; and 50,000 patients die. Direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity total more than an estimated $60 billion annually.
Most concussion or mild TBI symptoms go away without treatment. In more severe cases, hospitalization and intensive care are required. Emergency care focuses on preventing any worsening of brain damage and may include medications such as diuretics to reduce the amount of fluid in the tissues; anti-seizure medications; and coma-inducing medications, for patients whose blood vessels are unable to supply adequate amounts of food and oxygen to the brain.
Surgery may be required to remove hematoma (localized abnormal blood collection such as clots), repair skull fractures, or to create an opening in the skull if there is a need to relieve pressure. Complications may also occur, including seizures, infections, nerve damage, and blind spots; cognitive problems such as a reduced ability to communicate, pay attention, process information, remember things, and judge situations; or feelings of aggression, depression, and fatigue. Longer term issues include a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease later in life.
See a doctor if you have had any blow to the head. And remember: prevention is the best bet. Protect yourself and your loved ones from incurring TBI with the following guidelines:
• Wear a seatbelt at all times and use proper booster seats and belts for children.
• Don’t drink and drive.
• Wear helmets or other protective headgear when engaging in sports activities.
• Reduce conditions at home that may cause trip-and-fall accidents.
• Use safety gates on stairs when young children are present.
• Keep firearms locked away.
Research is critical to improving the treatment of the many facets and impact of TBI. Meridien Research is conducting TBI research at our Maitland and Tampa locations. For more information or to see if you or someone you know may qualify to participate, please contact us today at 1-888-777-8839.