Traumatic Brain Injury – Awareness, Tips and SymptomsheadingContent
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Brain injury is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. Approximately 2.5 million people suffer from some form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) annually.
This includes individuals of all ages. It also includes service men and women (10-20 percent sustains traumatic brain injuries). TBI can have major effects on individuals and their families and can affect brain functioning, potentially causing difficulties returning to school or to work, as well as performing other regular activities. TBI is usually caused by a head injury sustained from a fall, motor vehicle accident or contact sports.
This is a good time to bring greater awareness to the causes of traumatic brain injuries and some prevention tips.
Falls and motor vehicle accidents are the most common causes. The elderly are at a greater risk for TBI related hospitalizations and death.
Tips for prevention include:
- Wearing seatbelts
- Wearing motorcycle and bicycle helmets
- Obeying traffic laws
- Following firearm safety
- Engaging in fall prevention programs
Up to 80 percent of individuals who sustain a TBI are examined and released from the emergency room, so it’s important to be informed about the symptoms of TBI. Brain injuries can range in severity, from mild (commonly referred to as a concussion) to severe. While most injuries are mild in severity, they can still cause various symptoms. As a result of the brain injury, individuals may experience physical, cognitive and emotional changes.
Physical changes are often associated with the underlying cause of the injury and may include the following:
- Broken bones
- Changes in vision
- Ringing in the ears
Cognitive symptoms often include:
- Problems with attention/concentration
- Slowed thinking
- Memory problems
Emotionally, individuals may experience increased anxiety and depression and those around them may notice changes in personality.
Neuropsychologists are a critical part of the care team for individuals with a TBI and are instrumental in helping to facilitate the recovery process. In the hospital, neuropsychologists often evaluate and treat patients during the inpatient and rehabilitation stages. In the outpatient setting, the neuropsychologist evaluates the patient within a few weeks to months post-injury.
In our clinic at the Palm Beach Neuroscience Institute (PBNI) we conduct comprehensive neuropsychological evaluations, which are assessments of cognitive and emotional functioning. This allows us to determine each individual’s neuropsychological profile and areas of strengths and weaknesses. With these results, we provide individualized feedback of the results and recommendations to patients and their families. The results and recommendations offer useful information and guidance for patients, family members and other treating providers during the brain injury recovery process.