By Dr. Gail Stockman
Corsicana Daily Sun
A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The degree of seriousness can range from “mild,” which causes a brief change in mental status or consciousness, to “severe,” which results in an extended period of unconsciousness or possibly, amnesia.
A concussion is a type of TBI that also occurs from a fall or a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth.
Concussions often occur during sports or recreation activities. The number of youth sports-related TBIs has increased 60 percent in young athletes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Bicycling, football, and playground activities account for the greatest increase.
A person who experiences any of the following signs and symptoms after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body should be examined immediately by a health care professional with experience evaluating concussions and head injuries:
• Appears dazed, stunned or sluggish; forgets an instruction
• Answers questions slowly
• Loses consciousness (even briefly)
• Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
• Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall
• Has a headache, nausea or vomiting; dizziness; double or blurry vision; sensitivity to light or to noise
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
A non-fatal, severe TBI may result in an extended period of unconsciousness (coma) or amnesia. A TBI may lead to a wide range of short- or long-term issues affecting: cognitive function (e.g., attention and memory); motor function (e.g., extremity weakness, impaired coordination and balance); sensation (e.g., hearing, vision, impaired perception and touch); and/or emotion (e.g., depression, anxiety, aggression, personality changes).
People age 75 years and older have the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalizations and death. For these individuals, doctors suggest regular exercise, focusing on increasing leg strength and improving balance; a frequent review of medications by their doctor or pharmacist to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness; have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year; make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding stair railings and improving lighting in their homes.
If you suspect that a loved one has experienced even a mild head trauma, call 911 or get to the closest emergency room as soon as possible.
Learn more at NavarroHospital.com . Click on the “Health Resources” and search “Head Injuries” to read several informative articles, as well as to view a video on concussions.
Gail Stockman, M.D. is a board certified internal medicine physician. She is an employee of REAP d/b/a Medical Associates of Navarro County. Remember that this information is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor, but rather to increase awareness and help equip patients with information to facilitate conversations with their physician.