TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI)
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from mild (i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to severe (i.e., a long period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury). A TBI can result in short or long-term problems with the person functioning independently.
IF YOU THINK YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS A TBI, CONTACT YOUR HEALTH CARE PROVIDER.
Getting help soon after the injury by trained specialists may speed recovery. This information is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or examination.
HOW MAY PEOPLE HAVE TBI?
- Of the 1.4 million people who have a TBI each year in the United States:
- 50,000 die; 235,000 are hospitalized; and 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency department.
- The number of people with a TBI who are not seen in an emergency department or who receive no care is unknown.
CAUSES OF TBI
The leading causes of TBI are:
- Falls (28%): Falls are the leading cause of TBI; rates are highest for children ages 0 to 4 years and adults ages 75 years and older.
- Motor vehicle traffic crashes (20%): The rate of motor vehicle traffic-related TBls is highest among adolescents ages 15 to 19 years.
- Struck by/against (19%): Struck by/against events, which include colliding with a moving or stationary object, are the third leading cause of TBI. Approximately 1 .6-3.8 million sports- and recreation-related TBls occur in the United States each year.
- Assaults (11%): Firearm use is the leading cause of death related to TBI. Nine out of 10 people with a firearm-related TBI die.
PREVALENCE OF TBI
- Males are about 1.5 times as likely as females to suffer from a TBI.
- The 2 age groups at highest risk of a TBI are 0- to 4-yearolds and 1 5- to 19-·year olds.
- Certain military duties (e.g., paratrooper) increase the risk of sustaining a TBI.
- African Americans have the highest death rate from TBI.
SYMPTOMS OF TBI
The signs and symptoms of TBI can be subtle. Symptoms may not appear until days or weeks following the injury or may even be missed because some people may look fine even though they may act or feel differently.
The following are some common signs and symptoms of a TBI:
- Headache or neck pain that does not go away
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating or making decisions
- Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting or reading
- Getting lost or easily confused
- Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation
- Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason)
- Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping)
- Lightheadedness, dizziness or loss of balance
- Urge to vomit (nausea)
- Sensitivity to lights, sounds or distractions
- Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Ringing in the ears.
LONG TERM CONSEQUENCES OF TBI
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that at least 3.1 7 million Americans currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform daily activities because of a TBI. According to one study, about 40% of those hospitalized with a TBI had at least one unmet need for services one year after their injury. The most frequent unmet needs were:
- Improving memory and problem-solving
- Managing stress and emotional upsets
- Controlling anger
- Improving job skills
A TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, language, learning, emotion, behavior and/or sensation. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders that become common with age.
An acquired brain injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth, which is not hereditary, congenital (present at birth) or degenerative (slowly deteriorating).
A PERSON WITH A SUSPECTED ABI SHOULD CONTACT A PHYSICIAN IMMEDIATELY, GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM OR CALL 911.
An ABI may result in mild, moderate or severe problems in one or more areas, including:
- Cognition (thinking)
- Attention and concentration
- Muscle coordination
CAUSES OF ABI
Injury from ABI can affect cells throughout the entire brain, not just in specific areas with TBI.
Causes of ABI can Include, but are not limited to:
- Airway obstruction
- Near-drowning, throat swelling, chocking, strangulation, crush injuries to the chest
- Electrical shock or lightning shock
- Trauma to the head and/or neck
- TBl with or without skull, fracture, blood loss from open wounds, artery impingement from forceful impact, shock
- Heart attack, stroke
- Infectious disease
- Meningitis, certain venereal diseases, AIDS, insect-carried diseases, brain tumors, seizure disorders
- Toxic exposure: poisonous chemicals and gases, such as carbon monoxide poisoning
TYPES OF ABI
Anoxic Brain Injury or Hypoxic Brain Injury
Anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain does not receive any oxygen. Cells in the brain need oxygen to survive and function. Hypoxic brain injury occurs from a reduced level of oxygen to the brain.
Types of Anoxic or Hypoxic Brain Injury
Anoxic anoxia: Brain injury from no oxygen supplied to the brain.
Anemic anoxia: Brain injury from blood that does not carry enough oxygen.
Toxic anoxia: Brain injury from toxins or metabolites that block oxygen in the blood from being used.
Hypoxic ischemic brain injury (aka stagnant hypoxia or ischemic insult): Brain injury occurs from a lack of blood flow to the brain because of a critical reduction in blood flow or blood pressure.
SYMPTOMS OF ABI
Most symptoms of ABls are similar to those of TBls; however, people with ABls tend to experience symptoms more frequently and to a greater degree than people with TBls.
- Cognitive impairment: thinking skills, memory
- Longer length of time spent in a vegetative state
- Severe behavior problems: depression, restlessness, hostility
- Muscle movement disorders
Information on this website is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or examination.
A brain injury can happen to a child or adult of any age, race, gender, religion or social status. The problems that result from TBI, such as issues with thinking and memory, are often not visible, and because awareness about TBI is limited, it is frequently referred to as the Silent Epidemic.
If the head is hit or shaken, a concussion or closed head injury can result. A concussion is seldom life-threatening, so doctors often use the term “mild” when the person is only dazed or confused or loses consciousness for a short time. However, a concussion can result in serious symptoms.
People who survive multiple concussions may have more serious problems.
People who have had a concussion may say that they are fine, even though their behavior or personality has changed. If you notice such changes in a family member or friend, suggest they get medical help. Common Symptoms of Brain Injury Include:
- Not feeling like regular self; something is “off”
- Headaches or ringing in the ears
- Trouble with memory, attention or concentration
- Difficulty organizing daily tasks
- Easily irritated or angered
- Feeling light-headed or dizzy
- Blurred vision or eyes tire easily
- Feeling sad, anxious or listless
- Feeling tired all the time
- More sensitive to sounds, lights or distractions
- Impaired decision-making or problem solving
- Difficulty inhibiting behavior – impulsive
- Slowed thinking, moving, speaking or reading
- Easily confused, feeling easily overwhelmed
- Change in sleep – much more or much less
- Change in sexual interest or behavior