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5 Things You Should Know About Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (often abbreviated as TBIs) are injuries to the brain typically (but not exclusively) caused by physical trauma. They can impact many brain functions and cause numerous different health problems, including vision problems.

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Traumatic brain injuries are often referred to as “the silent epidemic”

Approximately 1.7 million Americans suffer from some sort of traumatic brain injury each year, with 75% of those being “mild” brain injuries or concussions. The rates in Canada are similarly high, with reports indicating that around 450 people per day suffer from a severe brain injury, excluding concussions.

All this should serve as a reminder that brain injuries are much more common than it might seem. Falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, strokes, and physical violence all contribute to this unfortunately high number.

Even if a head injury is considered “minor” it may still lead to complications, so it is important to be aware after suffering such an injury, so that you can get any problems properly diagnosed and treated early. If there is any part of the body about which it’s important to not stay silent when something isn’t right, it is the brain.

Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries

Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries

According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), around 47 percent of traumatic brain injuries are caused by falls, especially among young children and senior citizens.

Other common causes of traumatic brain injuries include sports injuries (21%), blunt force trauma (15%), motor vehicle accidents (14%), and physical violence (9%).

This is important to understand because many brain injuries sustained in the types of incidents listed above can be largely benign and may not seem to be worth worrying about. In the minds of many, traumatic brain injuries are caused strictly by major incidents such as car accidents or physical violence. In fact, as the numbers show, most traumatic brain injuries are caused by more mundane events like falls or a head impact in a sports game. (While the clinical term for these injuries is traumatic brain injuries, they need not be sustained in the type of incident most people would consider “traumatic.)

Given the more mundane nature of many of these injuries, they can be prevented, in many instances, by the simple actions of wearing proper head protection and taking extra care to avoid falls.

Concussions do not automatically lead to unconsciousness

Concussions do not automatically lead to unconsciousness

Despite what you might see in movies, blows to the head do not typically lead to unconsciousness. In fact, only about 10 percent of incidents where someone sustains a concussion result in a loss of consciousness. In the vast majority of concussion cases, the person remains awake and alert--if less alter than they might usually be.

This is important to understand because any type of physical injury to the brain can lead to a brain injury, not only those which are serious enough to cause concussions. Therefore, even if it may not seem particularly serious, you should seek medical care if you experience a head injury. The sooner any potential problems are found, the easier they will be to correct.

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Women are at higher risk for traumatic brain injuries

Women are at higher risk for traumatic brain injuries

While the precise reason is not conclusively known, studies have found that women are at greater risk than men of suffering a traumatic brain injury. One partial reason may be the higher percentage of women having experienced some form of physical violence from their partners (33% of women over the age of 15). Additionally, women may be more likely to experience a traumatic brain injury due to a fall at home (in part because they, on average, spend more time at home.)

It is important to not forget that incidents like that can lead to traumatic brain injuries, especially in a world where discussion of traumatic brain injuries more often revolves around those suffered by men engaged in professional sports (specifically the condition of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.)

Ninety percent of traumatic brain injuries result in some sort of vision issue

According to the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association, approximately 90% of people who suffer a traumatic brain injury such as a concussion will experience one or more vision problems. Some of the more common vision issues include:

  • Eye strain/pain and headaches
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Visual field reduction
  • Reading difficulties
  • Eye movement problems (including difficulty focusing on objects)

Fortunately, today there is much more understanding of the vision issues which can result from traumatic brain injuries, and there are more specialists, such as neuro-optometrists, who specialize in treating these problems.

If you are experiencing vision problems following a head injury, contact us to . In collaboration with your doctor, our team will develop a personalized treatment plan to help you achieve a better quality of life.

Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries
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Common Questions

Five visual complications from a brain injury could be: hemianopsia (loss of half the vision in each eye), visual neglect (ignoring objects in the visual field), strabismus (misalignment of the eyes), diplopia (double vision), and visual processing problems (difficulty interpreting visual information).
The five types of traumatic brain injury include concussions (mild injuries from a head blow), contusions (brain bruises or bleeding from impact), penetrating injuries (from sharp objects piercing the skull), anoxic brain injury (from oxygen deprivation), and diffuse axonal injury (from violent brain movement within the skull).
Annually, 435,000 children visit emergency departments in the US due to TBIs. Falls cause most TBIs in young children, and sports-related injuries in adolescents. Early intervention, including consultation with a neuro optometrist, can help manage visual or cognitive complications.
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Summary

There are several important facts about traumatic brain injuries that are important to understand, so that you better understand the nature of these injuries, how to try to avoid them, and why it is important to be vigilant. In particular, vision issues are a common result of these types of injuries, and it is important to recognize those symptoms and seek proper, timely treatment.

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