Traumatic brain injury: understanding the symptoms and causes

Head trauma can be one of the most emotionally and physically devastating types of injuries, and it is important for victims and their families to understand what a brain injury can mean for the future. According to the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, an injury of this type must include an external force that causes brain tissue damage and one of three other criteria: 1) the victim experiences amnesia or cannot remember what caused the accident, 2) there is a documented loss of consciousness or 3) the incident results in a post-traumatic seizure, a skull fracture or an abnormal brain scan.

While it may surprise some, the most common cause of a traumatic brain injury is falling, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Statistical analysis of the four-year period from 2002 to 2006 showed that falls were responsible for 35 percent of traumatic brain injuries. Rounding out the top three were car accidents and being struck by an object at 17 percent and 16 percent, respectively.

These statistics change slightly, however, when the focus is narrowed to only moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries, which are defined as those that required the patient to be placed in a neurointensive care unit. In this category, car accidents were the leading cause, with gunshot wounds, falls and assaults following.

Unfortunately, the top causes for these injuries often come at the fault of another party. Unlike those with minor concussions or bumps and bruises, victims who have sustained traumatic brain injuries can face a long road to recovery, including lengthy hospital stays, long-term rehabilitation therapy and the need for specialized medical equipment. Whether the injury is from a car crash, slip-and-fall accident or blunt force trauma, Florida victims and their families may have legal options to get compensation through the courts.

Source: Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center, “Understanding TBI: Part 1 – What happens to the brain during injury and the early stages of recovery from TBI?” Thomas Novack, PhD, and Tamara Bushnik, PhD, Jul. 19, 2014