Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States. This stark fact is too little known among parents and the general public, and the hope behind Brain Injury Awareness Month is that this danger will become more widely recognized. Of course, traumatic brain injury is not solely a hazard for young people. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) state that in 2010, over 2 million people were diagnosed with TBI during visits to hospital emergency rooms. More worrisome, CDC’s statistics show that the incidence of TBI has steadily risen in recent years.
What Is Brain Injury?
The Brain Trauma Foundation explains that the brain is an organ like any other, and when it suffers a blow, it can become bruised or swollen. Just as swelling develops over time after you sprain your ankle, the same is true of the brain. In the days following a traumatic brain injury, swelling can increase and interfere with the blood circulation that brings vital oxygen to brain cells. This oxygen deprivation can result in serious damage or cell death, but medical intervention has some very effective ways of controlling the swelling.
What Are the Symptoms of Brain Injury?
Serious brain injuries don’t always make their presence known immediately. If you suffered a blow to your head, the CDC recommends that you watch for any of these symptoms during the days, weeks, and months following your accident:
- Trouble with thinking or remembering: Symptoms can include confusion and difficulty with logical thought progression, or they may take the form of feeling slowed down. Memory and concentration also frequently suffer after a brain injury.
- Physical symptoms: In the immediate aftermath of the accident, you may experience nausea and vomiting, although this is not true for everyone. Other physical symptoms include headaches, blurred vision, dizziness, sensitivity to light or noise, and an overall fatigue.
- Mood changes: Accident victims sometimes report an increase in sadness, anxiety, or irritability. You may also experience frequent emotional fluctuations.
- Sleep pattern changes: Any significant change in your normal sleep cycles, whether needing more sleep or less sleep, may be attributable to a brain injury.
If you are caring for someone in the hours immediately following an accident, they should be brought to an emergency room if they show any of the following symptoms:
- Excessive sleepiness or any loss of consciousness
- Uneven pupil size
- Any spasm or convulsive event that looks like a seizure
- Increasing levels of agitation or confusion
- Inability to recognize people or places
- Any unusual behavior
- Excessive crying or refusal to eat (in young children)
How to Prevent Brain Injury
One needs only look at the CDC’s chart of brain injury causes to know where to begin preventive efforts: Over 40 percent of brain injuries are caused by falls, and in adults over the age of 65, this percentage rises to 81 percent. Therefore, preventing falls for people of all ages is the first and most significant measure to take. The Brain Injury Association of America lists other easy and effective ways to reduce the likelihood of brain injury:
- Use seatbelts and approved child safety seats at all times in automobiles
- Make sure helmets are used when skiing, bike riding, or engaging in other motion sports
- Ensure that playground surfaces are made from shock absorbent materials such as rubber mats or wood chips
Our law practice has been successful in attaining justice in the form of verdicts and settlements for victims of brain injuries and other catastrophic accidents. If you or a family member is a brain injury accident victim, contact a Lewiston personal injury lawyer at Fales & Fales for a free case review.