Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs when a severe jolt or blow to the head leads to brain damage. It can also result when an object, such as a bullet or shrapnel, pierces the brain.
TBIs are commonly caused by sports injuries, such as from hockey or football, collisions between drivers, bikers, or pedestrians, as well as falls, violence, and combat. Symptoms can appear immediately after the incident or gradually emerge in the days that follow. People should typically seek medical attention after a severe blow to the head, especially if it seems to have altered the person’s behavior.
Injuries are categorized as mild, moderate, or severe based on how long the person was disoriented and unconscious as well as brain scan results. Therefore, people with TBIs experience different symptoms and to different degrees. In the physical domain, they may experience headaches, nausea, disorientation, drowsiness, trouble sleeping, slurred speech, or loss of consciousness. Cognitively they may struggle with concentration, memory, decision making, impulse control, and depression. From a sensory perspective, they may hear ringing in their ears, have vision impairments, and be especially sensitive to light and sound.
TBIs are quite common. About 2.87 million emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths were attributed to TBIs in the United States in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And that number appears to be rising, as it increased by 53 percent between 2006 and 2014.