There are more than 5.3 million people in the U.S. who are living with a permanent brain injury-related disability, according to the Brain Injury Association of America. Roughly 65% of injuries sustained are caused by falls or from being struck by or struck against something.
Understanding Brain Injury
A brain injury can influence everything from movement to memory and even emotions. They can happen at birth or as a result from an illness or trauma, but recovery is possible, and life with a brain injury, while challenging, can be positive and meaningful.
There are different ways to define a brain injury — they can be described as traumatic or non-traumatic, and depending on the severity of the injury, there can also be varying degrees — mild, moderate or severe.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a blow to or penetration of the head, commonly caused by falls, sports injuries, car accidents, being hit on the head or an assault.
The most common type of TBI is a concussion, accounting for hundreds of thousands of hospital visits each year. Concussions can range from mild to severe and can cause life-long damage if left untreated, especially for those who suffer frequent concussions, like athletes.
“Following a concussion, people should seek treatment if they had loss of consciousness and/or if they are experiencing persistent symptoms such as headaches, nausea/vomiting and confusion,” says Laura B. Ngwenya, MD, PhD, director of the Neurotrauma Center at the University of Cincinnati Gardner Neuroscience Institute and associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery and Neurology & Rehabilitation at the UC College of Medicine.
Other common types of TBIs include:
- Diffuse axonal injury.
- Skull fractures.
- Subdural hematoma.
TBIs can cause different symptoms for different people, depending on the severity of the injury and which part of the brain was injured.