Brain injuries are nothing to take lightly. According to the spinal cord and brain health services provider Newsome Melton, 1.4 million people experience traumatic brain injuries in the United States each year.
Brain injuries, which can be traumatic brain injuries or acquired brain injuries, can result from a variety of activities, accidents and other risk factors. A greater understanding of potential red flags for brain injuries can help people protect themselves against these potentially debilitating and even deadly outcomes.
What’s the difference between TBI and ABI?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is generally caused by a blow or some other trauma to the head. The injury does not always include an open head wound or skull fracture, nor does loss of consciousness have to occur for an injury to be considered a TBI.
An acquired brain injury (ABI), also called a non-traumatic brain injury, generally results from an illness or condition within the body.
Top causes of ABIs
These are the most common causes of an ABI:
- Stroke: This is caused by poor blood flow to the brain from a blockage or bleeding.
- Hypoxia: Hypoxia is a lack of oxygen, which can happen when drowning, among other causes.
- Infections that can lead to inflammation
Top causes of TBIs
Here are the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries based on data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Falls: Slipping and falling and hitting the head account for 28% of TBIs. Children between the ages of zero and four and adults ages 75 and older are most at risk.
- Motor vehicle accidents: A car or motorcycle crash produces the highest number of TBIs that require hospitalization. In this category, teens between the ages of 15 and 19 account for the most incidents.
- Sports: Roughly 19% of traumatic brain injuries occur when the head is struck forcefully by another object or against one. Sometimes called mild traumatic brain injuries, some are treated without hospitalization. Recreation- and sports-related injuries tend to fall in this category.
- Assaults: Victims of assault, when one is hit in the head by fists, another object or even kicked, can cause a TBI. Some TBIs are also caused by firearms.
- Military activity: People in the military can suffer brain injuries from flying debris and large blasts.
- Shaken baby syndrome: This condition occurs when babies are shaken with such force that their brains move violently in the undeveloped skull, causing trauma and damage to brain tissue.
Symptoms of brain injury
The Shepherd Center, which specializes in medical treatment for brain and spinal cord injuries, indicates symptoms of a brain injury can include any of the following:
- trouble communicating/speaking
- memory impairments
- difficulty with focus and logic
- balance issues
- vision problems
- trouble swallowing
- personality changes
Brain injuries can sometimes be prevented with care. A doctor should be contacted immediately when anyone experiences brain trauma.