Traumatic brain injuries: The long-lasting impact of impact

Every day, 138 people die from injuries that include a traumatic brain injury. Those lucky enough to survive, don’t escape unscathed. Moderate-to-severe cases result in a lifelong condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Traumatic brain injuries are not always caused by traumatic events

Traumatic brain injury in the United States is one of the leading causes of death and disability, contributing to about 30 percent of all injury deaths, reports the CDC. What makes TBIs so prevalent? What many people don’t understand is that TBIs can occur from incidents that don’t seem that traumatic.

Top 4 causes of traumatic brain injuries

One of the first steps toward preventing TBIs is gaining awareness on common injury origin points. The top four causes of TBIs listed by the CDC are:

• Falls: Falls accounted for 40 percent of all TBIs between 2006 and 2010. Fifty-five percent of TBIs in children ages 0 to 14 were caused by falls, and 81 percent of TBIs in people over the age of 64 were caused by falls.

• Accidental hit by object: Unintentional blunt trauma accounted for 15.5 percent of traumatic brain injuries. In children under the age of 15, blunt trauma was the cause of TBI in 24 percent of cases. (Oftentimes, these injuries occur on the job, such as at a construction site or in an oil field.)

• Motor vehicle crashes: Motor vehicle crashes accounted for 14 percent of traumatic brain injuries. However, motor vehicle wrecks were the cause of 26 percent of all TBI-related deaths between 2006 and 2010.

• Assault: Approximately 10 percent of TBIs were caused by assault, and about 75 percent of these injuries occurred in people between the age of 15 and 44.

Traumatic brain injuries by the numbers

So, just how common are TBIs? In 2012, an estimated 329,290 children (age 19 or younger) were treated in the United States for sports-related injuries, concussions or TBIs, reports the CDC. To get a sense of the range and scope of traumatic brain injuries, consider the following 2013 U.S. statistics provided by the CDC:

• 2.8 million TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths

• TBI contributed to the deaths of nearly 50,000 people.

• 282,000 hospitalizations and 2.5 million ED visits

The harrowing thing about these high numbers is that TBI is not something that you easily heal from. Studies have shown that even mild cases of TBI result in reduced cognitive performance in both the short and long term, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Traumatic brain injuries result in a lifelong condition

The sudden and profound impact of a traumatic brain injury can cause persistent, sometimes lifelong issues. Survivors often require lengthy rehabilitation and frequently suffer long-term physical, cognitive and psychological disorders.

TBI causes a variety of impairments, including impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing) or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression). A TBI can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other brain disorders, reports the CDC.

The socioeconomic cost of traumatic brain injury

TBI injuries not only affect individuals, but also the families and communities they touch. TBI is a major cause of long-term disability in both industrialized and developing countries worldwide. The National Institute of Health estimates that 10 million people will be affected annually by TBI, and that by the year 2020 it will contribute more to death and disability than many diseases, making TBI a pressing public health and medical problem.

Many survivors never recover full social independence, even though their physical abilities are intact. The neurological wounds, also referred to as neurobehavioral disability, are too severe. Survivors of TBI are often left to depend exclusively on family support, creating a lifelong burden on relatives, families and communities.

If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury, whether mild or severe, it’s important to not only seek medical attention but also enlist legal guidance. Contact Thomas J. Henry injury attorneys to get the support you will need for treatment and recovery.