September Is National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month
Did you know that according to a report in March 2015, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that in just one year, traumatic brain injuries (or TBI) accounted for nearly 2.2 million emergency department visits, 280,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths?
The most common form of head injury is called mild traumatic brain injury, or “concussion.”
Concussions don’t happen just from sports, and they don’t just happen to young adults. Concussions frequently happen to the aging population from falls and are over looked. They are common after car accidents or any other trauma to the skull. It is also important to realize injury doesn’t necessarily correlate with how hard the blow to the head was and frequently (in 90% of cases) does not result in a loss of consciousness.
Do you know the signs and symptoms? The most common symptoms of a concussion include:
- difficulty thinking clearly
- blurry vision/ double vision
- irritability, anxiety, sadness (being more emotional)
- difficulty getting to or staying asleep
- feeling slowed down
- dizziness, balance issues
- sensitivity to light and noise
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty remembering new information
- feeling tired/ lack of energy
Thankfully, in most cases, with appropriate rest, 80% of those with a concussion recover completely within 7-10 days. Interestingly, children recover more slowly than adults and the younger the child, the more slowly the recovery. This is because the adult brain is essentially fully developed and the child’s brain is not, and the brain must divert energy to heal while it is growing and developing, which slows healing.
When to Seek Medical Attention
Follow these recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on when to seek medical attention.
- Headache that gets worse and does not go away.
- Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination.
- Repeated vomiting or nausea.
- Slurred speech
- Drowsy or cannot be awakened.
- Have one pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other.
- Have convulsions or seizures.
- Cannot recognize people or places.
- Are getting more and more confused, restless, or agitated.
- Have unusual behavior.
- Lose consciousness (a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously and the person should be carefully monitored).
In children: Any of the adult symptoms as well as if the child will not nurse or eat or cannot be consoled.
For more information about concussions and how to treat them, go to www.cvmc.org/concussion.