A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is caused by a brutal strike to the head or body. TBIs can occur due to falls from height, sport accidents, and motor-vehicle incidents. The injuries can lead to lifelong health complications or death (MBS 2018).
TBI status classification is based on the individual’s responsiveness (MBS 2018):
- Mild: The individual is awake with her or his eyes open, but may be disoriented.He or she may also experience memory loss, headaches, and temporarily lose consciousness.
- Moderate:The individual appears lethargic and may lose consciousness lasting 20 minutes to 6 hours.If the individual appears sleepy, this may be due to bleeding, but can also signal that her or his brain is swelling. The individual can generally still be aroused and open his or her eyes to stimulation.
- Severe:The individual is unconscious lasting 6 hours or longer.Eyes are closed and the individual is unresponsive to voice and touch.
TBIs include the following (MBS 2018):
- Concussion:A mild TBI that can lead to a temporary loss of consciousness and typically does not cause permanent brain damage.
- Contusion:A TBI that occurs when a particular area around the brain is injured as the result of a violent strike to the head.This is also known as a “coup” or “countercoup” injury since the brain suffers injury during the initial impact and injury on the opposite side of impact.
- Diffuse axonal injury (DAI):DAI occurs when the brain is subjected to vigorous shaking.Nerve cells become stretched and can be sheared off as a result, similar to a telephone wire being snipped.This condition may cause the individual to have trouble processing information and focusing on details.
- Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (TSAH): TSAH is caused by bleeding in the area surrounding the brain.Blood spreads over the surface of the brain, which can cause hemorrhaging.
- Hematoma:When a blood vessel ruptures, a blood clot called a hematoma is formed.A person’s body naturally attempts to stop the bleeding by thickening the blood.
Use the following tips to prevent TBIs while at work, home, or participating in extracurricular activities (MC 2019):
- Wear helmets that are the right size and correct type for the activity.
- Avoid using motor vehicles if you have taken prescribed or over the counter medications.
- Never operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.
- Wear your seat belt when operating a motor vehicle and make sure all passengers are also using theirs.
- Keep walking paths clear and remove items that may cause slips, trips, and falls.
- Install anti-slip mats in your bathroom.
- Clear stairway clutter and install/use safety handrails.
All TBIs are serious injuries that require immediate medical attention. Never leave anything to chance! Consult your doctor when you or your loved ones experience an extreme strike to the head or body.
Mayo Clinic (MC). 2019. Traumatic brain injury. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/traumatic-brain-injury/symptoms-causes/syc-20378557.
Mayfield Brain & Spine (MBS). 2018. Traumatic brain injury. Available from: https://mayfieldclinic.com/pe-tbi.htm