Traumatic brain injury (TBI), also known as an intracranial injury, is an injury to the brain as a result of some sort of sudden and impactful trauma to the head. Specifically, a TBI occurs when such an impact forces the brain to rattle around the inside walls of the skull and causes bruising, nerve damage, and even internal bleeding.
The physical trauma that causes a person to suffer from a traumatic brain injury may result from any number of incidents. Some of the most common causes of traumatic brain injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include:
- Slips and falls (40%)
- Unintentional trauma (15%)
- Car accidents (14%)
- Violence (10%)
The severity of traumatic brain injuries depends on a few different factors. First, the severity of a TBI is often related to which area of the brain that the injury affects. Other factors include whether the injury is acute or covers a larger area of the brain and how much physical damage has been done to the brain.
Mild traumatic brain injuries, often referred to as a concussion, can be relatively minor and have minimal – if any – long-term effects on the injured person’s health. Concussions are commonly associated with sports-related injuries – particularly in contact sports such as football and hockey – and, when treated properly, typically do not last long. A majority of the traumatic brain injuries that are reported in the U.S. each year are classified as mild, or concussions.
On the other end of the spectrum, severe traumatic brain injuries can result in long periods of unconsciousness, amnesia, coma, and even death. Severe TBIs can take time to develop and may not be apparent until several days have passed since the initial trauma.
It is important to be aware of the possible warning signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury, both for a victim of a possible TBI as well as their loved ones. Some of these signs and symptoms include:
- Chronic headaches
- Impaired movement or thinking
- Vision and hearing problems
- Personality changes
If a person is exhibiting signs of a traumatic brain injury, it is extremely important that the person is evaluated by a qualified medical professional as soon as possible. The sooner that a brain injury victim is evaluated and treated, the better the chances that person will avoid the long-term effects that result from a TBI.