Approximately 2,000,000 people annually sustain brain injuries. A brain injury or traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious and complex injury that can occur to anyone at any time. According to data from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, children 0 to 4, adolescents 15 to 19, and adults age 65 and older are most likely to sustain a TBI. Young children and the elderly have an increased risk of sustaining a TBI partially because both demographics are commonly injured in fall down accidents. 28% of all brain injuries are a result of a fall. Adolescents who participate in contact sports often fall victim to brain injuries. Each year thousands of adolescents are treated for brain injuries that occurred while playing other sports/activities such as baseball, softball, bicycling, and using powered recreational vehicles like go-carts and ATVs. Twenty percent of all brain injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents, and adolescents are more likely to be hurt or killed in a crash than any other age group.
Symptoms and complications vary based on the individual affected and the severity of the injury. Individuals suffering from a traumatic brain injury often experience problems with simple cognitive skills, like concentrating and basic retention. Executive functions (like keeping track of time and adapting to new situations) may become difficult or even impossible. The individual may also have complications related to their vision and hearing. And recently, experts have linked certain progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s to brain injury.
For family, friends and the injured, brain damage can be severely life-changing. Head traumas caused by a vehicle collision, fall, or another event similar, has the potential to cause serious and permanent brain damage. In many cases, people with moderate brain damage go unaware of their disability. This occurs because there is a variety in severity and x-rays or CT scans at a hospital may not be able to show the damage, especially in cases where the symptoms are subtle.
In working with someone that has a brain injury, it is important to have the financial aspects addressed for all past and future losses, such as lost income, medical care and rehabilitation, pain and suffering. However, it is equally important to act quickly in a brain injury case, because often times improvement beings to slow after six months from the date of the accident that caused the injury.
While some people with brain injuries may make some recovery, often times, many do not. The injury is real and requires immediate attention and therapy. Some injuries can result in the injured person having mild limitations, be unable to work, perform daily activities or care for themselves.
Among precautions that can be taken to reduce your risk of enduring a traumatic brain injury include:
- Avoid fall down accidents by paying attention to your surroundings, walking distraction free (i.e. put your cell phone away when you’re in motion), monitoring young children who aren’t sturdy on their feet, and ensuring your elderly loved ones have proper support mechanisms in place. During the winter months shovel your walkways and place salt when necessary. If indoor floors are wet or compromised in any way be sure to notify those in the area that the floor may be slippery or dangerous.
- Wear protective gear and make sure your children do too, especially those playing contact sports like football and lacrosse. Always wear a helmet and protective gear when biking, horseback riding, and during any and all activities where head protection is suggested.
- Drive safely often times innocent people are injured at no fault of their own because other drivers choose to engage in dangerous behaviors like speeding, driving distracted, and failing to abide by traffic laws. Don’t put yourself or others on the road at risk by engaging in any of the behaviors above.