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Identifying a Traumatic Brain Injury

Sometimes after an accident, a head injury is glaringly obvious. The victim is bleeding or unconscious, so it is clear that the person needs immediate medical attention. However, sometimes the victim appears to be unscathed and decides to go home instead of going to a hospital. Traumatic Brain Injuries, or TBIs, occur when the head is hit, causing the disruption of normal brain functions. TBIs can occasionally cause minimal injuries, however they can also be incredibly dangerous. TBI is a major cause of injury and death in the United States, and makes up 30% of all injury deaths. It is important to read the facts to understand what exactly a TBI is and what you should do after an accident to ensure a minimal injury doesn't turn fatal.

Traumatic Brain Injury Stats & Facts

When it comes to Traumatic Brain Injuries, there are numerous alarming statistics that come with it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • 138 people die daily in the U.S. from TBI
  • In 2010 2.5 million emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and/or deaths were associated with TBI
  • In the U.S. TBI makes up 30% of all injury deaths
  • In the U.S. 50,000 people died from TBI in 2010
  • Falls make up 40% of TBI accidents, mostly affecting children 0-14 and adults 65+
  • Motor Vehicle accidents make up 14% of TBI accidents, but are the leading cause of death for people between 5-24
  • Assaults make up 11% of TBI accidents, but were the leading cause of TBI deaths in children from 0-4
  • 15% of TBI occur when people are struck by or against something
  • Men are nearly 3 times more likely to die from TBI than women

Identifying a TBI

If you hit your head, there are many signs to look out for to determine if you have a TBI. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should watch out for the following:

Physical Symptoms

  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few hours (the longer the worse it is)
  • A state of being dazed, confused or disoriented
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • 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

Sensory Symptoms

  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears
  • A bad taste in the mouth
  • 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
  • Anxiety
  • Profound confusion
  • Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma and other disorders of consciousness

Some of these symptoms are more severe than others, but if you or a loved one recently hit your head, and are experiencing at least one of these symptoms, it is worth checking out before it gets worse. If you think your child may have hit his/her head, look out for these additional signs:

  • Change in eating or nursing habits
  • Persistent crying and inability to be consoled
  • Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities

TBI: What to Do

Unfortunately with TBI comes some serious risks. Obviously death is a major fear when it comes to a brain injury, but there are many more risks. According to the CDC, "TBI can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age." If you hit your head, or witnessed another get into an accident, please seek medical attention immediately. Many TBI deaths occur because people believe they are in the clear and that nothing is wrong with them. Even if someone hit their head and says they feel fine, insist that they see a doctor. Many times doctors will conduct a CT scan or MRI, or keep you at the hospital overnight to run tests and ensure that you are away from any danger. Depending on the severity of your TBI or concussion, you will follow certain instructions from your doctor. It is common after a head injury to have a hard time getting back in the swing of things, so there are many things you need to keep in mind:

  • Get a lot of rest and don't over exert yourself.
  • Avoid exercise and recreational sports.
  • Don't go about your normal routine until your doctor says you are ready, this may include missing school or work if necessary.
  • Avoid driving until approved by your doctor.
  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Only take medication approved by your doctor.
  • Write down everything. Your memory may be foggy, so this will help you keep everything organized. Especially write down your medication schedule if your doctor has given you strict orders.
  • Accept help from friends and family, don't try and do everything on your own.
  • Avoid airplanes, some people have stated that flying made their symptoms worse.
  • Don't multi-task, you may be easily distracted and forgetful after your injury.

Contact Rhett Hoestenbach

If you or a loved one was injured and unfortunately experienced a TBI, please contact Rhett Hoestebach. Rhett will work tirelessly on your case and give you the best service available. Please call 512-472-8865, email [email protected], or fill out the contact form here.

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