Concussions and TBIs: What Exactly is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

traumatic brain injuryA concussion or traumatic brain injury can be a difficult and life-changing injury for an accident victim, at least partly due to the complexity and long-term impact associated with diagnosis and treatment. The fact of the matter is that all types of head injuries can potentially be very dangerous and have long-term effects that can drastically alter a person’s future.

The Many Versions of TBI

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is defined as a physical trauma to the head that results in a disruption of normal brain function. These injuries are categorized in a range of mild, which indicates a brief change in mental status or consciousness, to severe, which constitutes an extended period of disruption in normal brain activity.

Either way, TBI’s are a serious health concern in the United States, as is explained on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

According to the CDC, an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States sustain some form of a traumatic brain injury each year. Concussions are a mild form of TBI, and although the “mild” classification means that these injuries are typically not life-threatening, the long-term effects of a concussion can be serious.

While mild head injuries can be extremely dangerous, severe forms of TBI are accompanied by disastrous results much more often. There are two types of TBI – closed, which means the injury is caused by a movement of the brain within the skull, or penetrating, which means the injury is caused by a foreign object entering the skull and damaging the brain.

Long-Term Effects of Concussions

The potential conditions and disabilities that can result from a severe TBI are large in number and can vary quite significantly. A person with a severe nonfatal TBI could potentially be lucky enough to walk away with minor short-term memory problems, whereas another could entirely lose motor or cognitive function. The CDC estimates that there are approximately 5.3 million people in the United States living with a TBI-related disability.

Mild forms of TBI, specifically concussions, are still quite dangerous but thankfully much easier to treat, manage and recover from than the severe forms. But while many people will bounce back quickly after being diagnosed with a concussion, it can sometimes take weeks to recover from.

The long-term effects that result from concussions can also vary greatly. As a general rule, the severity of the initial concussion and the frequency of subsequent concussions can often correspond to the long-term effects and any potential disabilities. For example, an average person with just one mild TBI in their lifetime that was treated properly is much less likely to experience any long term effects than a football player with multiple head injuries.

Regardless of the categorization, traumatic brain injuries are an extremely serious issue in our society and the public awareness and outreach that has resulted in recent years reflects that. It is imperative that victims of TBI immediately seek the assistance of a physician and begin the steps to treat the injury and recover in a healthy manner. 

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