There’s a good chance you’ve come across the term “traumatic brain injury” in the past. Referred to as TBIs for short, it is estimated that there were 223,050 TBI related hospitalizations in 2018 alone. Given how prevalent they are, it is useful to have a basic understanding of TBIs.
The Basic Facts
So what exactly is a TBI? In short, a traumatic brain injury occurs when a person sustains an injury that negatively affects the internal workings of the brain. In most cases, TBIs are caused by bumps, blows or jolts to the head. In some cases, a penetrating injury such as a gunshot may also lead to a TBI.
In terms of severity, TBIs can be divided into two categories:
Mild TBI/Concussion: Mild TBIs/concussions can cause a wide range of symptoms, ranging from attention/concentration difficulties, anxiety, nervousness and disrupted sleeping habits. An afflicted person might also feel tired and groggy, and could experience headaches and memory problems.
Moderate/Severe TBI: People with moderate to severe TBIs can encounter a number of serious symptoms, including diminished memory, weakness in the arms and legs, problems with vision and hearing and concentration difficulties. These injuries can also lead to bouts of depression or sadness, and may even lead to drastic changes in personality.
Unfortunately, the problems don’t end there. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have suffered a moderate/severe TBI are fifty times more likely to suffer from seizures, eleven times more likely to experience drug poisoning, nine times more susceptible to infection and six times more at risk of developing pneumonia. Most alarmingly, sustaining this type of injury reduces a person’s life expectancy by about roughly nine years.
Use Your Head
Given the risks associated with TBIs, it is very important to take precautions against such injuries. Listed below are some common sense ways to keep your head safe:
- Whenever you drive or ride in a motor vehicle, make sure you’re buckled up.
- Always drive sober.
- Put on a helmet or the appropriate headgear when riding a bike, motorcycle, snowmobile, scooter or all-terrain vehicle.
- For older adults, consult with your doctor regarding your risk of suffering from a fall; your doctor might be able to recommend some strategies for curbing your fall risk.
- Older adults should also have their eyes checked at least once per year, as well as keep their lower extremities strong through strength and balance exercises.
- If there are small children in your home, consider installing window guards to prevent falls. Safety gates can protect against falls from the top of staircases.