According to the Center for Disease Control, the CDC, 2.9 million people suffer from brain injury every year, resulting in 56,000 deaths, 288,000 hospitalizations, and 2.5 million trips to the emergency room. Oftentimes, we expect brain injuries to arise from car accidents, mishaps on construction sites, or major accidents, but slips and falls around the house can also pose a threat if left untreated and can have dire consequences.
What is A TBI?
A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is an injury that affects how the brain works. A TBI can lead to short or long-term problems that may affect all aspects of a person’s life. This may include the ability to work or build relationships with others. TBIs can also change how a person thinks, acts, feels, and learns. It can be caused by a hard bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or a penetrating injury, such as a gunshot, to the head.
Research shows that people most commonly get TBIs from:
- car crashes
- firearm-related injuries
TBIs are commonly referred to as an acquired brain injury or a repeated head trauma. “Dementia pugilistica” and “punch-drunk syndrome” are two of the terms used to describe a TBI that is caused by the repeated brain damage that can result from contact-heavy sports like boxing or football. A TBI is often categorized by its severity, as either mild, moderate or severe. The extent of a TBI depends on what part of the person’s brain has been damaged and the degree of the trauma. It is important to note that not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI.
The impact of TBIs:
TBI is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, contributing to the death of more than one million Americans over the last two decades. Anyone can experience a TBI, however people aged 75 years and older are at greater risk. This is because as a person ages, the dura (a thick membrane covering the brain and spinal cord) starts to stick to the skull, causing blood to accumulate and destroy the protective layer. Older adults as a group also experience poorer health outcomes following TBIs, meaning their road to recovery may be more complicated than for a younger person. This 75+ age group accounts for about 32% of TBI-related hospitalizations and 28% of TBI-related deaths.
One of the most feared long-term consequences of TBIs is dementia. Moderate to severe TBIs have been proven to increase the risk of dementia years after the original injury, even in patients younger than 30 years old. Depending on where the injury occurred in the brain, a TBI can cause symptoms of dementia, including:
- memory, concentration and attention problems
- speech and eating problems
- difficulty with balance and coordination
Adults age 65 and older are at greatest risk for being hospitalized and dying from a TBI, most often from a fall. In every age group, serious TBI rates are higher for men than for women. Men are more likely to be hospitalized and are nearly three times more likely to die from a TBI than women. The leading causes of TBI include:
- Falls: According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the most common cause of TBIs and occur most frequently among all age groups.
- Blunt trauma accidents: Accidents that involve being struck by or against an object, particularly sports-related injuries, are a major cause of TBI.
- Vehicle-related injuries: Pedestrian-involved accidents, as well as accidents involving motor vehicles and bicycles, are the third most common cause of TBI.
- Assaults/violence Assaults: Assault-related TBIs are head injuries that can result from domestic violence or shaken baby syndrome, and/or gunshot wounds to the head. TBI-related deaths in children age 4 and younger are most likely the result of child abuse.
- Explosions/blasts: TBIs caused by blast trauma from roadside bombs became a common injury to service members in military conflicts. The majority of these TBIs are classified as mild head injuries.
Summing it Up:
Whether you’re experiencing it yourself or caring for someone that has one, it’s important to remember that recovery from a TBI is a process, not an event. There is no magic bullet or one-size-fits-all approach to recovering from a TBI. Understanding how the brain works and what the long-term prognosis may be can help you move forward with improved confidence. With that in mind, keep learning about brain injury and how it affects both the injured person and their family members.
Loving someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury can be challenging and emotionally complex. Let Andrea’s Angel’s skilled caregivers assist you with the day-to-day and keep your loved one safe and comfortable at home. We can help make your whole family’s life a little easier and allow you to focus on spending time with your loved one.
DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information in this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen.