March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and we want to do our part to inform and educate our readers on the importance of brain health and seeking treatment when an injury occurs.
Brain injuries come in many forms and on many occasions. Some injuries may be minor due to casual sport contact, while others can be severely life-altering, resulting from something like a car accident or stroke. In all situations, you should not take the well-being of your brain for granted. And when it comes to brain injuries, time is of the essence.
According to research done by the CDC, nearly 2 million emergency room visits per year are due to traumatic brain injury (TBI). And, about 4 million Americans live with long-term disabilities resulting from TBI.
With a brain injury, often called the “invisible disease,” it is critical that we take a close look at the different types of brain injuries. Ultimately, knowledge is power when it comes to the prevention and treatment of brain injuries.
What Causes Brain Injury?
You can experience a traumatic brain injury when any of the following have occurred:
• Brain Tumor
• Brain Infection (Encephalitis)
• Falls, Unintentional strikes, Assaults
• Concussion (Mild to Severe)
• Anoxic Brain Injury
What is at Stake?
When it comes to brain injuries, challenges that a patient might face after the event may be short-term and/or long-term behavioral changes. For example, a high school athlete who has sustained a concussion is three times more likely to sustain a future concussion with extended recovery periods.
Consequences of brain injury can include changes to thought processes, speech, physical sensations, and emotional behavior. The brain has two jobs; it thinks, and it feels; so if it has an injury, it can affect changes in concentration and focus, as well as mood and judgment.
Severity also varies from case to case; while some may experience personality changes impacting mood, others may experience severe depression and cognitive impairment.
Steps to Treatment
It is important to note that although 90% of concussions are not associated with a loss of consciousness, they are still serious.
For example, a child experiencing a blow to the head during a football game, a family member falling to the ground, or a minor car accident where whiplash has occurred may not result in loss of consciousness. Although the loss of consciousness may not occur in any of these cases, there may be intense pain, cognitive changes, and changes in behavior, and these symptoms should be examined by a medical professional.
More often than not, it is essential to have minor incidents evaluated by a physician, as treatment may be necessary to prevent further damage and long-term consequences.
Seek immediate medical attention (911) if any loss of consciousness has occurred (no matter how brief), any feelings of confusion, headache, vomiting, swelling, seizures, or more.
I always tell my patients, when it comes to brain injury, you can never be too cautious.
Only a medical professional and related testing will be able to diagnose internal bleeding and prevent life-threatening consequences.
A neurological exam may be necessary for assessing the status of various motor functions and cognitive skills. Your physician can order a CT scan or MRI of the brain, as well as EEG (the rhythm of the brain electricity), to analyze the nature of the injury further. Continued monitoring is essential to confirm that the brain is healing.
With brain injury affecting millions, including those in our community, we must all be aware of the importance of brain health and provide ongoing support for those in our community that have survived a brain injury. Most importantly, know what to do in the event of an accident. Please share this with a family member of a friend to spread awareness.
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“To Cure Sometimes, To Heal Often, To Comfort Always”
If you have any questions related to brain & heart health or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact the Neurology Office for more help.
Neurology Office, Joseph Kandel M.D. and Associates
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