National Brain Injury Awareness Month

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 1, 2022

MEDIA CONTACT
Barb Tyler, Office of Communications, (513) 530-7484, barb.tyler@nebraska.gov

National Brain Injury Awareness Month

Lincoln – Every nine seconds, someone in the United States sustains a brain injury. Every day, 137 people die in the U.S. because of a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and over 5.3 million Americans live with a TBI-related disability.

A TBI usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body, or an external force. Many who sustain a TBI do not seek treatment; one in every 60 people lives with the disability. Annually, 2.5 million sustain such an injury, 2.2 million are treated for TBI in emergency rooms and trauma centers, 280,000 are hospitalized, and 50,000 die. The leading cause of TBI are falls, traffic accidents, assaults, sports injuries, and combat injuries.

An acquired brain injury (ABI) is any injury to the brain that is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. Typical causes are electric shock, infectious disease, lightning strikes, near drowning, stroke, seizure, substance abuse/overdose, tumors, or toxic exposure. A TBI is a type of ABI.

Mild TBIs may affect the brain cells temporarily. Physical symptoms include headache, nausea, fatigue, dizziness or problems with speech. There may be sensory and behavioral symptoms as well.

Severe TBI symptoms can appear within the first hours to days later. It can result in bruising, torn tissues that may lead to infections, bleeding, and other physical damage to the brain. These injuries can result in long-term complications or death. Those at most risk are children under four and adults over 60. Symptoms include profound confusion, unusual behavior, slurred speech, dilation of the pupils, weakness or numbness in the extremities, repeated vomiting, loss of consciousness, and seizures.

Any or several of these symptoms may linger for a few weeks to a few months after a TBI. When a combination of these symptoms lasts for an extended period of time, this is generally referred to as persistent post-concussive symptoms. Some research suggests that repeated or severe TBI might increase the risk of degenerative brain diseases.

A degenerative brain disorder can cause a gradual loss of brain functions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Dementia pugilistca, which is associated with repetitive blows to the head as in boxing can also cause symptoms of dementia and movement problems, resulting in a brain injury.

To reduce the risks of brain injury, use seat belts, don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription medications that impair the ability to drive. Wear helmets or appropriate head protection when enjoying sports or outside recreation. Pay attention to your surroundings; don’t drive, walk or cross the street while using any smart device. Prevent falls around the house by using handrails, removing area rugs, improving lighting, clearing clutter, and get regular vision checkups and exercise.