March is Brain Injury Awareness Month.
Around 2.5 million emergency room visits, hospitalizations or deaths in the United States were associated with brain injuries. Brain injuries are caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all jolts to the head result in a brain injury. Doctors will rate a brain injury in a range from “mild” to “severe”. A mild brain injury is a brief change in mental status or consciousness while a severe injury is an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury.
- These injuries are a major cause of death and disability in the United States, contributing to about 30 percent of all injury deaths.
- 138 people in the United States die from these injuries
- Those who survive from this can face effects lasting a few days to disabilities that may last the rest of their life.
- Men are nearly three times as likely to die as women.
- Falls are the leading cause of death for persons 65 years or older.
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause for children and young adults, ages 5-24 years.
- Assaults are the leading cause for children ages 0-4.
- Impaired thinking
- Impaired memory
- Impaired movement
- Impaired sensation (vision or hearing)
- Impaired emotional function (personality changes, depression)
What is the cause?
- Falls 40.5%
- Unintentionally struck by/against object 15.5%
- Traffic accidents 14.3%
- Assaults 10.7%
- Unknown 19%
Be safe – Think ahead and learn the common causes, so you can take steps to prevent brain injuries during everyday activities, at work, while playing sports or during a deployment.
Know the signs – Concussion, known as mild TBI, often goes undetected or undiagnosed initially because the symptoms can be subtle and varied.
Get help – If you think you, or someone else you know, has a brain injury, please seek medical help as quickly as possible to improve chances of a full complete recovery.
Wear a helmet; children included when you:
- Play baseball, softball, football, or lacrosse
- Ride a horse
- Ski or snowboard
- Zipline, rock climb, bungee jump, hang glide
- Ride a bike
Wear a seat belt:
When you drive or ride in a car, truck, or other motor vehicles you should always wear a seatbelt. Small children should always sit in the back seats of cars, away from airbags, and use safety seats or booster seats appropriate for their size and weight.
Never drive while vision-impaired or under the influence:
- Drugs (including prescription medications)
Prevent falls by:
- Clearing tripping hazards such as loose rugs, uneven flooring or walkway clutter
- Installing handrails on both sides of stairways
- Improving lighting throughout the home
- Using nonslip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors, and installing grab bars next to the toilet, tub, and shower