Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is brain damage as the result of an injury. A TBI, also sometimes referred to as a “Concussion”, can be caused by an impact to the head, or a jolt to the head that causes the brain to impact inside of the skull. TBI can even be caused by a whiplash-style injury where the brain bounces around the inside of the skull causing multiple impacts. TBI can cause either minor damage such as interruption of brain cell function, or more serious damage such as internal bleeding.
The symptoms of a TBI may not appear for days, or even weeks after the accident. The delayed onset of symptoms does not reduce the seriousness of the injury. TBI sufferers still need medical attention as the injury can be serious or even life-threatening. The CDC website states that about 1.7 million people sustain a TBI each year. Of these, about 1.3 million visit the emergency room for treatment, 275,000 are hospitalized 52,000 die.
TBI can have symptoms that effect several mental processes. A TBI can cause changes in thinking and memory such as loss of consciousness, difficulty concentrating and remembering information. A TBI can cause Physical symptoms such as headache, nausea, and sensitivity to light. A TBI can also cause mood changes such as increased nervousness or sadness, and changes in sleep patterns.
A TBI can have serious long-term consequences as well. It can cause changes to thinking such as memory and reasoning, as well as changes in the senses such as touch and smell. Some TBI sufferers even have long-term changes to communication and emotions. TBI has also been known to be a precursor to epilepsy, and is considered a contributing factor in diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. This is thought to be the case weather an individual suffers a single major TBI, or several minor ones. The types and severity of the long-term consequences are dependent upon the severity of the injury, and which parts of the brain were injured.
As the above statistics show, a TBI is not always life-threatening, but may require expensive hospitalization or ongoing treatment. Costs of TBI to patients, including medical care, and time off work, were estimated at $60 billion for the third quarter of 2000. That figures to nearly $150,000 per patient. As costs of medical care have only increased in the 10 years since this study by the CDC, the figures can only have increased.
According to the Medline website, half of all traumatic brain injuries are due to motor vehicle accidents, but they are not the only cause. Aside from motor vehicle accidents, TBI has also been linked to falls, combat and sports injuries and even post-traumatic stress disorder. However, if you have been in an auto-accident, or had another head injury, the symptoms of your TBI may not have been readily apparent at the time of the accident or injury. This article is not meant as a diagnostic tool. If you believe you have suffered a TBI, please seek medical attention.