Recent findings regarding the prevalence of concussion and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the NFL has brought greater awareness to these serious conditions. Football players put themselves at risk of a head injury with every game played. The rest of us risk a concussion or TBI during a fall, a car collision, and other accidents.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention reports that TBI contributes to about 30 percent of all injury deaths. From 2006 to 2010, falls were the leading cause of TBI (40 percent), followed by unintentional blunt trauma (15 percent), and motor vehicle crashes (14 percent). Among TBI-related deaths, rates were highest for individuals age 65 and over.
Although a serious blow to the head would raise serious concern for concussion or TBI, even a sudden jolt-such as whiplash or shaken babies-can cause TBI.
It is often difficult, but critical, to recognize symptoms of TBI. Common symptoms of mild TBI, or concussion, include:
▪ Visual disturbances
▪ Memory loss
▪ Poor attention/concentration (“brain fog”)
▪ Sleep disturbances
▪ Dizziness/loss of balance
▪ Irritability-emotional disturbances
▪ Feelings of depression
Sometimes symptoms don’t appear until days or weeks after an accident. Many people don’t realize they have a problem or don’t understand why they don’t feel right.
If you sustained a head injury from a car crash, fall, or some other incident, be sure your doctor or a neuropsychologist performs a thorough neurological exam as soon as possible. A CT Scan or MRI will also provide helpful information.
In rare cases, a blood clot may form on the brain. Danger signs for this condition include:
- Headache that gets worse and does not go away
- Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Slurred speech
If you witness an accident, call 911 immediately, especially if the victim shows the following symptoms:
- Looks very drowsy
- Has one pupil larger than the other
- Has convulsions or seizures
- Does not recognize people or places
- Gets more confused, restless, or agitated
- Has unusual behavior
- Loses consciousness
Take the risk of concussion or TBI seriously. Understand the signs and symptoms and seek treatment immediately for yourself or anyone that may be affected.