2.5 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury annually

10:02 AM, Mar 25, 2019
3:49 PM, Jun 11, 2019


Brain injuries have been in the spotlight in recent years, and for good reason. Concussion diagnosis is on the rise in the United States.

Increasing 43 percent from 2010 to 2015.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month so we want to bring attention to the seriousness of brain injuries.

An estimated 2.5 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury in the United States annually.

A traumatic brain injury is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain.

“The biggest complication that we want to avoid is long term injury, and so brain damage is what we want to avoid. That is why we need to diagnosis it early and treat it as quickly as possible,” said Corpus Christi Medical Center trauma surgeon Avafia Dossa.

Head trauma is frequently caused by falls, motor vehicle crashes, assaults, sports or combat injuries, and intentional self-harm. All ages may be at risk, especially children, young adults, and those over age 60.

“If the appropriate treatment is not started right away then you are looking at progressive injury to the brain that can eventually turn into a potential temporary deficit into a permanent one,” said Dossa.

Knowing what symptoms to look for can aid you in getting help faster and preventing further harm.

“What we are looking for is anything that will make someone act differently than what that baseline is; passing out, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and sometimes seizures. Specifically in children, you want to look at what is different about this child that he normally does that he has changed.  We are looking at, is he or she sleepier than usual, more hyper active, and where mostly vomiting is a big clue,” said Dossa.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, contributing to about 30 percent of all injury deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

“What makes the difference is time; it is how quickly you can get the patient where they need to be,” said Dossa.

Mild traumatic brain injury may affect your brain cells temporarily. More-serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain. These injuries can result in long-term complications or death.


Traumatic brain injury is usually caused by a blow or other traumatic injury to the head or body. The degree of damage can depend on several factors, including the nature of the injury and the force of impact.

Common events causing traumatic brain injury include the following:

* Falls. Falls from bed or a ladder, down stairs, in the bath and other falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury overall, particularly in older adults and young children.

* Vehicle-related collisions. Collisions involving cars, motorcycles or bicycles — and pedestrians involved in such accidents — are a common cause of traumatic brain injury.

* Violence. Gunshot wounds, domestic violence, child abuse and other assaults are common causes. Shaken baby syndrome is a traumatic brain injury in infants caused by violent shaking.

* Sports injuries. Traumatic brain injuries may be caused by injuries from a number of sports, including soccer, boxing, football, baseball, lacrosse, skateboarding, hockey, and other high-impact or extreme sports. These are particularly common in youth.

* Explosive blasts and other combat injuries. Explosive blasts are a common cause of traumatic brain injury in active-duty military personnel. Although how the damage occurs isn’t yet well-understood, many researchers believe that the pressure wave passing through the brain significantly disrupts brain function.

Traumatic brain injury also results from penetrating wounds, severe blows to the head with shrapnel or debris, and falls or bodily collisions with objects following a blast.


Traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects. Some signs or symptoms may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may appear days or weeks later.

The signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury may include:

Physical symptoms

* Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes

* No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented

* Headache

* Nausea or vomiting

* Fatigue or drowsiness

* Problems with speech

* Difficulty sleeping

* Sleeping more than usual

* Dizziness or loss of balance

Sensory symptoms:

* Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell

* Sensitivity to light or sound

Cognitive or mental symptoms

* Memory or concentration problems

* Mood changes or mood swings

* Feeling depressed or anxious

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries can include any of the signs and symptoms of mild injury, as well as these symptoms that may appear within the first hours to days after a head injury:

Physical symptoms:

* Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours

* Persistent headache or headache that worsens

* Repeated vomiting or nausea

* Convulsions or seizures

* Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes

* Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears

* Inability to awaken from sleep

* Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes

* Loss of coordination

Cognitive or mental symptoms

* Profound confusion

* Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior

* Slurred speech

* Coma and other disorders of consciousness

Children’s symptoms:

Infants and young children with brain injuries might not be able to communicate headaches, sensory problems, confusion and similar symptoms. In a child with traumatic brain injury, you may observe:

* Change in eating or nursing habits

* Unusual or easy irritability

* Persistent crying and inability to be consoled

* Change in ability to pay attention

* Change in sleep habits

* Seizures

* Sad or depressed mood

* Drowsiness

* Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities


Several complications can occur immediately or soon after a traumatic brain injury. Severe injuries increase the risk of a greater number and more-severe complications.

Altered consciousness, Physical complications, Intellectual problems, communication problems, behavioral changes, emotional changes, sensory problems, degenerative brain disease,

Other Coma, vegetative state, minimally conscious state, brain death, seizures, fluid buildup in the brain, infections, blood vessel damage, headaches, vertigo.

When to see a doctor:

Always see your doctor if you or your child has received a blow to the head or body that concerns you or causes behavioral changes. Seek emergency medical care if there are any signs or symptoms of traumatic brain injury following a recent blow or other traumatic injury to the head.

The terms “mild,” “moderate” and “severe” are used to describe the effect of the injury on brain function. A mild injury to the brain is still a serious injury that requires prompt attention and an accurate diagnosis.

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