Traumatic Brain Injuries: An Overview

Approximately 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur in the United States each year. According to the U.S. department of health and human services, TBIS account for 4.8% of all injuries seen in the emergency rooms, subsequently accounting for 15.1% of all hospitalizations. But what exactly is a TBI?

Simply put, a TBI is any external force delivering a jolt, blow or penetration to the skull and/or body, which causes dysfunction of the brain.

Depending on the TBI’s severity, a wide range of symptoms is possible. For instance, milder forms of brain injury can produce headaches, dizziness/loss of balance, feelings of nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, abnormal sleep patterns, mood swings, and feeling depressed or anxious. But, milder TBIs, such as concussions, generally result in full recovery in the hours to weeks after the injury.

Unlike their mild counterparts, moderate or severe TBIs can cause more debilitating, sometimes permanent, symptoms. These symptoms depend on what part of the brain was injured, and how severe the injury was. These symptoms can include profound confusion, agitation, slurred speech, inability to awaken from sleep, weakness or numbness in fingers and toes, loss of coordination, persistent headache or headache that worsens, recurrent nausea, convulsions, dilation of one or both pupils, and/or clear fluids draining from the nose or ears.

If you think you’ve suffered a TBI, it’s important to seek prompt medical attention.