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Traumatic Brain Injuries – Too Common

    I have talked about Traumatic Brain Injuries, also referred to as TBI, many times before because so many of these devastating injuries are the result of car or motorcycle accidents. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control tell us that nearly 20% of all TBI’s are caused by traffic accidents.

    Given the frequency of TBI’s, it is valuable to review the symptoms associated with it. Someone who has suffered a TBI may experience cognitive deficits, speech difficulty, blurred vision or vision loss, nausea, sensitivity to sound and light, seizures, headaches, memory loss and confusion. But, sometimes, TBI’s are not immediately obvious which makes this condition so insidious. Sometimes, after a serious accident, an individual can appear to be fine and suffer deadly symptoms of TBI hours and days later.

    Types of TBI
    Primary TBI’s happen at the time of an accident – right on the spot. Possibly the most difficult primary TBI to detect is Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI) which is the result of brain neurons being pulled and stretched. This is not always obvious on an MRI or CT scan.

    Another primary TBI is a skull fracture. This occurs when pieces of the skull literally break off and press on the brain. Localized primary TBI is an injury that results in contusions or hemorrhages in the brain. Secondary TBI’s, on the other hand, may occur days after the initial injury, and often are caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain.

    Determining Severity of TBI
    There are three basic ways to ascertain the severity of a TBI: the length of time an individual has been unconscious; the depth of unconsciousness (coma); and what can be seen in diagnostic tests such as brain MRI’s and scans. Medical professionals also observe eye movement and verbal ability to gauge the severity of the injury.

    Emergency medical teams will immediately check for signs of TBI at the scene of every motor vehicle accident, and use the Glasgow Coma Scale to determine the level of brain damage. This information is crucial for the well being of the victim as well as for the medical staff that will have to take over care at the hospital. The more information gathered at the accident site, the better equipped the doctors will be to prevent any further damage.

    The important thing to remember is not all Traumatic Brain Injuries reveal themselves at the time of an accident. If you or someone you are with is injured in a motor vehicle accident, make sure to seek medical treatment to rule out this potentially deadly condition.

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