TBI: What you should know
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health issue for Americans. Each year, TBI contributes to a substantial number of deaths and permanent disability. A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. The severity of a TBI may range from "mild" to "severe".
According to research from Centers for Disease Control, approximately 3.5 million persons have a TBI in the United States. Of these individuals:
• 2.1 million received care in emergency departments,
• 300,000 were hospitalized,
• 84,000 were seen in outpatient departments,
• 1.1 million received care from office-based physicians, and
• 53,000 died.
Previously referred to as the "Silent Epidemic," individuals with this injury may not have any visible scars, and symptoms may not show up or be noticed until hours or days later. Still, a TBI can cause short- or long-term problems seriously affecting thinking, learning, memory, and/or emotions. A TBI can affect all aspects of an individual’s life, as well as that of their loved ones. This may include relationships with family and friends, as well as their ability to work or be employed, do household tasks or drive a car.
The most common causes of TBI are from falls and car crashes. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are many ways to reduce the chances of a TBI, including:
• Wearing a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle.
• Never driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• Avoiding activities that can distract you while you drive, such as using a cell phone, texting, and eating.
• Wearing a helmet and making sure your children wear helmets while riding a bike.
Helping prevent falls by:
• Encouraging older adults to improve their balance and coordination by exercising.
• Using safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent young children from falling.