Q & A ABOUT TBI

What is TBI?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. The damage can be focal (confined to one area of the brain) or diffuse (involving more than one area of the brain). A TBI can be a closed or penetrating injury. A closed head injury occurs when the head experiences an external physical force, but the skull is not penetrated. A penetrating injury occurs when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. The resulting injuries can produce altered consciousness, which can impair physical or cognitive functioning on either a temporary or permanent basis.

TBI is most often an acute event similar to other injuries. That is where the similarity between traumatic brain injury and other injuries ends. One moment the person is normal and the next moment life has abruptly changed.

In most other aspects, a traumatic brain injury is very different. Since our brain defines who we are, the consequences of a brain injury can affect all aspects of our lives, including our personality. A brain injury is different from a broken limb or punctured lung. An injury in these areas limit the use of a specific part of your body, but your personality and mental abilities remain unchanged. Most often, these body structures heal and regain their previous function.

Brain injuries do not heal like other injuries. Recovery is a functional recovery, based on mechanisms that remain uncertain. No two brain injuries are alike and the consequence of two similar injuries may be very different. Symptoms may appear right away or may not be present for days or weeks after the injury.

How many people have TBI in the US?
Every 23 seconds, one person in the US sustains a Traumatic Brain Injury.

An estimated 5.3 million Americans currently live with disabilities resulting from Traumatic Brain Injury.

Comparison of Annual Incidences shows that more people in the US sustain a brain injury then breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, Spinal Cord Injuries and Multiple Sclerosis combined.

  • Brain Injury; 1,500.000
  • Breast Cancer; 176,300
  • HIV/AIDS: 43,681
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: 11,000
  • Multiple Sclerosis: 10,4000

Brain injury is the “silent epidemic”. It’s a silent epedimic because you can’t look at someone and tell that this person has sustained a brain injury.

Over 1.5 million who sustain a TBI each year in the US:

  • 50,000 die
  • 235,000 are hospitalized, and over
  • 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency department.
  • The number of people with TBI who are not seen in an emergency department or who receive no care is unknown.

The leading causes of TBI in the US are:

  • Falls (28%);
  • Motor vehicle-traffic crashes (20%);
  • Struck by/against (19%); and
  • Assaults (11%)
  • Blasts are a leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in war zones

What are the costs of TBI?
Direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity of TBI totaled an estimated $60 billion in the United States in 1995.

What are the long-term consequences of TBI?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 5.3 million Americans currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a TBI. According to one study, about 40% of those hospitalized with a TBI had at least one unmet need for services one year after their injury. The most frequent unmet needs were:

  • Improving memory and problem solving;
  • Managing stress and emotional upsets;
  • Controlling one’s temper; and
  • Improving one’s job skills

TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, language, learning, emotions, behavior, and/or sensation. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.

Reference:
Brain Injury Association of America
Brain Injury Association of Oregon
Centers for Disease Control
Brain Injury Recovery Kit BIRK

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