Traumatic brain injuries are a serious health concern in the United States that gets relatively little attention, despite the fact that TBIs affect hundreds of thousands of Americans each year. "TBI" generally refers to a situation in which sudden trauma causes damages to the brain. For example, a concussion would be a type of TBI. More generally, TBIs can arise from a wide range of circumstances when the normal functioning of the brain is disrupted when the head suddenly and violently hits an object. TBI can even refer to a situation in which an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue. This simple description offers an idea of how many different types of injuries fall under the general heading of TBI.
According to research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1.7 million people sustain a TBI in the United States every year. Of those individuals
- 52,000 die.
- 275,000 are hospitalized.
- 1.365 million individuals are treated and released from an emergency department.
While 75 percent of brain injuries treated medically are concussions or other mild forms of TBI, traumatic brain injuries are a contributing factor in nearly a third of all injury-related deaths in the United States. Two of the leading causes of TBIs are falling and motor vehicle accidents.
TBI is sometimes called a silent killer. A person can experience trauma to the head — and, thus, a degree of brain damage — but not experience or notice any symptoms. If the trauma does cause symptoms to appear, a person with mild TBI may experience unconsciousness for only a few seconds or not at all. Mild cases of TBI also can cause headaches, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, fatigue, changed sleep patterns, behavioral or mood changes, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention or thinking. These symptoms might also be present for a person suffering from more severe TBI. In addition, worsening headaches, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, inability to waken from sleep, pupil dilation, altered speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, restlessness, and agitation are also symptoms that might appear.
Traumatic brain injuries are not only common, they are serious and can be particularly so over the long run. Because of this, taking preventive measures is important, as is seeking medical attention as soon as a head trauma occurs.
About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.