Brain Injury Facts

A brain injury can occur any time the brain is forced against the inside of your skull due to an accident or injury. A hard blow to the head may cause a movement of the brain inside the skull, a fracture to the skull, or bleeding in or around the brain—or any combination—thus resulting in brain injury. The common forms of brain injury are bruising (bleeding), tearing, and swelling.

Immediate Effects Of A Brain Injury

Bruising: As soon as the soft tissue of the brain is thrown against the hard bone of the skull, blood vessels tear, releasing blood into the skull. There’s no room for this excess blood, since the skull can’t expand. This causes the blood to press against brain tissue, increasing the risk that areas of the brain may quit functioning causing physical impairment or even death.

Tearing: When the brain is tossed forward and back during an injury, it can be torn. This tearing action disrupts the connections between the cells that control brain functioning.

Swelling: A traumatic brain injury can cause the brain to swell. With no room to accommodate the swelled brain, pressure builds, pushes down on the brain, and damages brain cells, creating impaired functions.

Common Brain Injury Causes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports these as the most common causes of brain injury:

  • 35 % from falls
  • 20 % from car accidents or truck accidents
  • 19% from impact with a moving object
  • 11% from attacks
  • Other causes include sports injuries and shaking - "shaken baby syndrome"

Do traumatic brain injuries often result in death? Thankfully the answer is "no". Most brain injuries (TBI) are fairly mild and don’t cause lasting effects. Generally, the person may only get a concussion. TBIs from car accidents are typically the most severe and often have lasting consequences.

Brain Injury Statistics

In the US:

  • A TBI occurs every 15 seconds
  • 1.7 million people experience a brain injury each year
  • An estimated 5 million Americans experience some form of TBI disability
  • 50,000 people each year die from TBI
  • 235,000 people are hospitalized with TBI
  • 80,000 or more have permanent disabilities
  • TBI is a primary cause of death and disability for people under 45
  • Men incur TBIs 1.5 times more than women
  • The lifetime cost to treat TBI runs between $600,000 to $1.8 million.

Brain Injury Symptoms

When a person suffers a brain injury, any number of functions may be affected, from mild to more severe.

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of controlling movement
  • Poor memory
  • Impaired communication: receiving and sending
  • Disruption in processing information
  • Ongoing pain
  • Confusion, depression, anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Irregular blood pressure

Usually, traumatic brain injury symptoms decrease as the brain heals, however, there is a real risk that symptoms could increase if the injury survivor is unable to adapt to the initial impairments that accompany a brain injury. Also, new or heightened symptoms such as emotional and psychological problems could arise if the injured person doesn't feel they are making progress toward recovery.