The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that an estimated 2.5 million people suffer from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. Approximately 1.4 million are treated and released from an emergency room, while 275,000 are hospitalized and 52,000 die. However, brain injuries are often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. To raise awareness of the importance of treatment and research of the condition, March is celebrated as Brain Injury Awareness Month.
The Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) leads healthcare organizations throughout the United States in observing Brain Injury Awareness Month. From 2015 to 2017, the theme for their observance is Not Alone—recognizing that TBI victims and their families need support from others to be able to move forward with their lives. The BIAA encourages those who've experienced a TBI to share their stories via social media with the hashtag #NotAloneInBrainInjury.
Brain Injury Facts and Statistics
To better understand the risks posed by a TBI, consider the following facts and statistics:
- Brain injuries are most often caused by automobile collisions, athletic injuries, physical assaults, or accidental falls.
- Brain injuries are the leading cause of death and disability among children and adults age 1 to 44.
- Roughly 2% of the population are living with a permanent disability due to a TBI.
- Young children and the elderly are most at risk of a TBI, due to their increased likelihood of sustaining a serious fall. However, adults ages 65 and older are most likely to die as a result of their injuries.
- Motor-vehicle related TBI rates are highest among teens and young adults ages 14-24.
- Regardless of their age, men have higher TBI rates than women.
Brain Injury Symptoms
By definition, a TBI disrupts the normal functions of the brain. TBI signs and symptoms vary according to the severity of the injury, but they generally fall into one of four categories:
- Mental. Someone suffering from a TBI may have trouble concentrating, remembering new information, or thinking clearly.
- Physical. A TBI can cause headaches, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, and sensitivity to light or noise.
- Emotional. Changes in mood or behavior may include nervousness, anxiety, irritability, sadness, and difficulty regulating emotions.
- Sleep. Difficulty falling asleep, sleeping more than usual, or sleeping less than usual can all be symptoms of a TBI.
Although someone suffering from a brain injury will experience noticeable symptoms right away, it's possible for new symptoms to appear several weeks or even months after the injury. For this reason, careful monitoring is a must.
Brain injuries are classified as mild, moderate, or severe based on how long the victim loses consciousness. Here is a brief look at those classifications:
- A mild TBI is associated with a brief loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Patients have post-traumatic amnesia for one hour or less and normal brain imaging results.
- A moderate TBI is associated with a loss of consciousness for 1 to 24 hours. Patients have post-traumatic amnesia for 1 to 24 hours and abnormal brain imaging results.
- A severe TBI is associated with a loss of conscious for more than 24 hours. Patients have post-traumatic amnesia for more than 24 hours and abnormal brain imaging results.
The classification of a TBI doesn't necessarily relate to the patient's level of impairment. Even a mild TBI can result in lasting cognitive changes that affect the patient's ability to perform the tasks of daily living.
Early diagnosis and treatment greatly improves the long-term prognosis for someone with a TBI. In mild cases, mental and physical rest are enough to allow the brain to heal. However, someone with a more serious brain injury may need to see a neurologist, neurosurgeon, neuropsychologist, speech pathologist, or other rehabilitative specialist.
Receiving Compensation for a TBI
If you've sustained a brain injury following an auto accident or incident caused by another person's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your healthcare expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. To learn more, please contact Neblett, Beard & Arsenault to schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation at one of our six convenient office locations.