Our brain controls everything our body does — talking, thinking, seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling, and even breathing. When the brain is damaged, any (or all) of these functions can be affected, either temporarily or permanently. Brain injuries can be mild or severe.
There are two types of brain injuries: traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and acquired brain injuries (ABIs), also called non-traumatic brain injuries. Either type can cause localized damage, affecting only one area of the brain, or diffuse damage, affecting many places at once.
TBIs vs. ABIs
TBIs have an external cause, such as a bump or blow to the head, and can cause a skull fracture, cranial bleeding, and blood clots. They can occur as a result of:
- Car, motorcycle, or biking accidents
- Accidental falls
- Physical violence, including gunshot wounds
- Sports injuries/concussions
ABIs occur because of something that happens inside the brain, like a stroke. Other causes include:
- Tumors (malignant or benign)
- Lack of oxygen (such as caused by strangulation, choking, or drowning)
- Brain inflammation/infection, like meningitis
- Heart attack
- Poisoning/exposure to a toxic substance
- Neurological illnesses
- Drug abuse
Both traumatic and acquired brain injuries can result in mild, moderate, or severe physical and/or mental symptoms.
A person suffering from a mild brain injury might experience:
- Short-term memory loss
With a moderate brain injury, these symptoms last longer.
Severe brain injuries can result in debilitating physical, cognitive, and behavioral damage that might be irreversible, changing the person’s life forever.
If you've had a brain injury and still have symptoms, see a TBI/ABI expert for the best treatment options.
Brain Injury Treatment
Treatment for brain injuries may include:
- Medications, such as diuretics (to help decrease fluid buildup) and anti-seizure drugs
- Surgery to relieve pressure inside the skull, remove blood clots or tumors, or stop bleeding
- Occupational therapy, to relearn basic daily functions and activities
- Physical therapy, to gain mobility and strength
- Counseling, to learn coping strategies and other techniques to regain emotional and psychological well-being
Brain Injury Prevention
While most types of ABIs are difficult to prevent, the chance of experiencing a TBI can be greatly reduced by following these safety precautions:
- In the car, always wear your seat belt and never text while driving. Don’t get behind the wheel if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Wear protective gear when playing a contact sport like football, boxing, or hockey or when playing a non-contact sport that can result in a severe head injury, like baseball.
- Wear a helmet when riding a horse, bike, motorcycle, or skateboard, or even when skiing, snowboarding, or snowmobiling.
At home, remove tripping hazards, especially if there are elderly people or infants/toddlers present. Secure slippery rugs, keep clutter contained, and use a nonslip mat in the tub.
If falling is a concern, install safety equipment like handrails where necessary. Make sure the lighting is bright enough on stairways and in other areas where you're more likely to trip and fall.
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