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Living with a Brain Injury

I have a brain injury, but you would never know by looking at me.
Brain injury is...invisible. Brain injury  is...silent. brain injury is...for life"
                                                                                                                                                                                                           -Brain Injury Survivor

Caleb_Underwood with dog Beau

Brain injury is unpredictable in its consequences. Brain injury affects who we are, the way we think, act, and feel. It can change everything about us in a matter of seconds. The most important things to remember are:

  • A person with a brain injury is a person first.

  • No two brain injuries are exactly the same.

  • The effects of a brain injury are complex and vary greatly from person to person.

  • The effects of a brain injury depend on such factors as cause, location, and severity.

Caleb Underwood & Beau

Why Do Brain Injuries Occur?

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A head may be bumped, hit, jolted or penetrated through a variety of accident types. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of TBIs every year. They account for 40 percent of all traumatic brain injuries in the United States. The second-leading cause of traumatic brain injuries is being hit by an object, or blunt force trauma. Motor vehicle crashes are the third-leading cause, comprising 14 percent of all TBIs. Motor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of TBIs until 2017. Falls have increased dramatically since the Baby Boomers have reached senior adult status, and unfortunately, that number will continue to rise.

While the above may be the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries. They are not the only ones. A brain injury may also occur while playing sports, from a motorcycle accident, from a pedestrian or bike accident or from shaking a baby violently, also known as “shaken baby syndrome.” 

Truthfully, a TBI can happen anywhere, anytime to anyone. That's why TBIs are the leading cause of death and disability in children, young adults, and senior adults. Mississippi is #3 in the country in the number of TBIs each year.

What are the Signs of a Brain Injury?

The signs and symptoms of a brain injury can vary greatly depending on whether a brain injury is mild, moderate or severe. The following are physical, sensory and cognitive symptoms to pay attention to:

 

Mild to Moderate

Usually, one of the first signs of a mild to moderate brain injury, according to the Mayo Clinic, is the loss of consciousness for a brief moment or a few seconds. If loss of consciousness does not occur, then the victim may report feeling dazed or may appear to be confused or disoriented. Other physical symptoms are:

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In addition to physical symptoms, a victim and his or her family should also stay on the lookout for sensory and mental signs of a brain injury, too. These include:

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Moderate to Severe Brain Injury Signs

Many moderate to severe brain injuries will share the same symptoms of mild to moderate brain injuries. However, the more serious the brain injury type, the more developed and prolonged are the symptoms.


For example, rather than losing consciousness for a few seconds, a moderate to severe brain injury may be characterized by a loss of consciousness of a few minutes or even a few hours. Further, rather than mild nausea, a person suffering from a severe TBI may experience uncontrollable vomiting.

Other symptoms of a more serious brain injury are:

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What are the Different Types of Brain Injuries?

An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is an injury to the brain that is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. Essentially, this type of brain injury is one that has occurred after birth. The injury results in a change to the brain’s neuronal activity, which affects the physical integrity, metabolic activity, or functional ability of nerve cells in the brain. An acquired brain injury is the umbrella term for all brain injuries.

There are two types of acquired brain injury: traumatic and non-traumatic.

Traumatic Brain Injury

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force. Traumatic impact injuries can be defined as closed (or non-penetrating) or open (penetrating). Examples of a TBI include:

  • falls

  • assaults

  • motor vehicle accidents

  • sports injuries

Non-Traumatic Brain Injury

Often referred to as an acquired brain injury, a non-traumatic brain injury causes damage to the brain by internal factors, such as a lack of oxygen, exposure to toxins, pressure from a tumor, etc. Examples of NTBI include:

  • stroke

  • near-drowning

  • aneurysm

  • tumor

  • infectious disease that affects the brain (i.e., meningitis)

  • lack of oxygen supply to the brain (i.e., heart attack)

Brain Injury Facts & Prevention

While it’s not always possible to prevent accidents that lead to brain injury, you can take steps to reduce your risk of brain injury. Certain behaviors are more likely to lead to types of brain trauma, such as not wearing a seat belt, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and not wearing a helmet when participating in sports or recreational activities. 

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