Traumatic brain injury occurs when the head is hit or hits a blunt object causing the brain to violently impact against the hard bony surface of the skull. It can also occur when the brain suddenly accelerates or decelerates during an accident (commonly referred to as whiplash) without ever hitting anything. Brain injury and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are a leading cause of death and disability in the United States.
Often, traumatic brain injury occurs when the head hits the windshield, dashboard, steering wheel, or pavement in an auto, truck or motorcycle accident. Over the past few years, head injuries associated with sports-related concussions have received considerable attention.
Nearly 2 million Americans will sustain brain injuries this year. More than a half-million head injuries are severe enough to require hospitalization, and may result in permanent disability. Even those with a diagnosis of “mild” traumatic brain injury may find the effects of their injury anything but mild.
Some of the disabling effects of head injury include:
- Memory problems including short-term memory loss, problem solving abilities and the inability to understand abstract concepts
- Motor deficits such as paralysis, poor balance and poor coordination
- Speech deficits and poor breathing problems
- Language difficulty (i.e. difficulty expressing thoughts and understanding others)
- Loss of bowel and bladder control
- Personality changes, including irritability, depression, aggression, and sleep disorders.
- Seizures. Epilepsy occurs in 2 – 5% of all people who sustain head injury.