Do you have a brain injury? How to recognize the signs

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Whether from sports injuries, car collisions, or falls, concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI) affect millions of people.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2.8 million people suffered a TBI in 2013. Falls accounted for nearly half (47%) of all TBI-related hospital visits, followed by hits by or against and object (15%) and car collisions (14%).

If you suffer a blow to the head, how do you know if it's a concussion, TBI or mild TBI?

According to an article in Practical Neurology, doctors and others use the terms mild head injury, mild TBI, cerebral concussion, and post concussion syndrome interchangeably. The article says there is no commonly agreed definition of concussion and mild TBI and whether the two differ.

"Our own working definition is that concussion is an acute trauma-induced change of mental function which generally lasts less than 24 hours (with or without preceding loss of consciousness) and associated with other symptoms (such as headaches and dizziness)..." the article states.

A paper published by University at Buffalo describes the conditions this way:

Mild TBI: loss of consciousness for no more than 30 minutes or amnesia as a result of a mechanical force to the head, and a Glasgow Coma Score (GCS) of 13 to 15.

Concussion: a trauma induced alteration of mental status that may or may not involve loss of consciousness. Concussion is generally viewed as a transient state from which the individual will recover fully in a relatively short period of time.

Post concussion syndrome: persistent symptoms of concussion past the period when the individual should have recovered (3 weeks). It therefore qualifies as mild TBI.

Moderate to severe TBI, on the other hand, means a loss of consciousness for 20 minutes to six hours and a Glasgow Coma Scale of nine to 12. Severe brain injury results in a loss of consciousness for more than six hours.

Signs of mild TBI

You may have mild TBI and not know it. If you suffered a hard blow to the head and lost consciousness, you likely suffered mild TBI. MRI and CT scans may not show mild TBI, which makes diagnosis frustrating for both doctor and patient.

Other symptoms include:

• Fatigue

• Headaches

• Visual disturbances

• Memory loss

• Poor attention/concentration

• Sleep disturbances

• Dizziness/loss of balance

• Irritability-emotional disturbances

• Feelings of depression

• Seizures

Some symptoms may not manifest until days or weeks after the injury. Your best bet: if you suffered a blow or a serious jolt, visit your doctor right away.

If your injury stems from an auto or bicycle accident, or a slip-and-fall, contact an experienced personal injury lawyeras soon as possible. We offer a free consultation to review your case and help you understand your rights.

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