Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is considered a serious public health issue in the United States and contributes to a substantial number of deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, annually, there are around 1.5 million individuals in the United States alone who suffer from TBI. Around 50,000 deaths occur because of TBI every year and 85,000 individuals suffer long-term disabilities. A traumatic brain injury is a type of an acquired brain injury which occurs with trauma to the brain caused by a blow, jolt to the head, a bump or penetrating head injury. The severity of the condition can range from mild such as a brief change in mental status to severe problems resulting in amnesia. Therefore, it not only affects the individual but can have long lasting effects on families also. Although all individuals are at risk for TBI, the children and the elderly are particularly at increased risk. The brain injury association of America (BIAA) annually conducts Brain Awareness month and conducts the campaign to engage the public during the month of March. The theme for the year 2019 campaign is ‘Change Your Mind’. Individuals can get involved in #ChangeYourMind Campaign by visiting the website here.
This is a complex injury that can present a wide range of symptoms and disabilities. There are two categories the TBI is classified into; mild and severe. Mild TBI will be considered if an individual lost consciousness and/or have confusion and disorientation for a duration less than 30 minutes. Even when the MRI and CAT scans are normal, the affected individual could continue to have cognitive problems such as difficulty thinking, attention deficits and memory problems which can have a devastation effect on the family and the injured person.
The other category is severe TBI which is associated with loss of consciousness lasting more than 30 minutes and memory loss longer than 24 hours after the injury. The affected individuals could have limited function of their limbs, abnormal speech and loss of thinking ability. The degree of recovery is variable and is based on an individual level. For those with severe TBI, long-term rehabilitation is often required to maximize function.
Traumatic Brain Injury website can help ease the transition from shock to coping and problem solving. For those interested in understanding the latest medical breakthroughs and brain research, high quality of treatment options available and to find the nation’s best traumatic brain injury rehabilitation centers, connect with this website.
Causes of TBI
The causes of TBI can be diverse but the top three causes are car accidents, firearms and falls. Another type of traumatic injury that can occur as the result of these three causes includes spinal cord injuries. The different mechanisms resulting in the highest causes of brain injury are;
- Closed brain injury can occur from a fall or incidents such as motor vehicle crashes and the effects tend to be broad.
- Open headed injury can result from bullet wounds, penetration of the skull and the effects can be as fatal as closed brain injury.
- Deceleration injuries occur with the movement of the brain inside the skull which can happen when the head is struck resulting in direct brain injury due to diffuse axonal shearing, brain swelling and contusion.
- Chemical / Toxic, also known as metabolic disorders, can occur when harmful chemicals damage the neurons. Some of the chemicals and toxins include insecticides, lead poisoning and carbon monoxide.
- Hypoxia (Lack of oxygen) occurs when oxygen is depleted resulting in irreversible brain injury. This condition can be caused by a number of reasons such as heart attacks or respiratory failure.
Treatment Options and Rehabilitation
It is important to understand that no two brain injuries are the same. Also, when an individual sustains brain injury, their family members are an important part of the treatment plan. Based on the severity of the condition, the treatment may be required continuously or on an intermittent basis throughout the patient’s life. The diagram below illustrates brain injury treatment in a progression of trauma care to community integration.
The rehabilitation program enables a relearning process so the individual can recover by learning new ways to compensate for abilities that were lost because of the injury. The goal of rehabilitation is to ensure the individual can perform their activities of daily needs safely and independently. There are various rehabilitation options such as;
- Acute rehabilitation involves a team of health professionals who work with the patient to regain as many activities of daily living as possible.
- Post-acute rehabilitation is for those who require less-intensive rehabilitation service for a longer period of time.
- Day rehab or Day hospital is for those after their discharge from inpatient post-acute rehabilitation facility and enables the person to return home at night.
- Outpatient Therapy may be required for those after an acute or post-acute rehabilitation to continue receiving therapies to help enhance their recovery.
Few Safety Tips and Prevention of TBI
Prevention of TBI is considered the best approach as there is no cure. Therefore steps must be taken to reduce the risk of a concussion or other forms of serious brain injury from occurring. Some of the general prevention tips include;
- Always wear a seat belt in a motor vehicle
- Do not drink and drive
- Use age and size-appropriate car seats or a booster
- Wear a helmet when participating in contact sports
- Wear a helmet when horseback riding
- Wear a helmet in a sports activity such as skiing, skating and skateboarding
- Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, scooter and other open unrestrained vehicles
- To prevent falls, ensure no obstacles are placed on walking pathways
- Ensure adequate lighting particularly on places like the stairs for individuals with poor vision
- Use gates at the top and the bottom of the stairs to prevent falls among infants
- Using playgrounds with soft material.