5 Essential Facts About Traumatic Brain Injuries

Dr. Russel Lazarus, April 12, 2020

Have you suffered a brain injury? Here are 5 facts that are essential to know:

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to the brain caused by physical trauma, usually a sudden blow to the head. Traumatic brain injuries occur more frequently than is generally assumed. TBIs can affect the functioning of the brain, and can therefore lead to severe health problems.

Fact #1: A concussion does not automatically lead to unconsciousness

A concussion is a mild form of a TBI, however  only around 10% of concussion incidents result in a loss of consciousness.

TV and movies frequently give the impression that people pass out from a concussion, but these reactions are dramatized and not quite realistic. Most people who suffer from a concussion remain awake and aware of their surroundings, despite being less alert than usual.

Why is this essential to know?

A brain injury can occur from any type of physical injury to the brain, not only from those causing concussions. Therefore it is important to know that you could suffer consequences, even without the ‘movie-inspired’ concussions, and to seek medical care and management.

Fact #2: TBIs are often referred to as a ‘Silent Epidemic’

An estimated 1.7 million Americans suffer from traumatic brain injury every year, and of those, about 75 percent of the cases are mild brain injuries or concussions. In Canada, the rates are equally alarming with approximately 450 Canadians incurring severe brain injuries on a daily basis – excluding concussions.

Why is this essential to know?

Brain injuries are far more common than you think, and reaching ‘epidemic’ proportions due to falls, sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, strokes, physical attacks and others.

If you feel that you may have suffered any type of TBI, you do not have to suffer alone. Expert medical care is now available to diagnose and treat these conditions.

If you have had a brain injury, contact an eye doctor near you, who can diagnose and treat any underlying vision problems.

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Fact #3: Falls are the most common cause of TBIs

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, approximately 47 percent of traumatic brain injuries are caused by falls, specifically among young children and adults over 65 years of age. Other TBI injuries can result from sports injuries (21%), blunt force trauma (15%), car accidents (14%), and violent physical assaults (9%).

Why is this essential to know?

The cause of most brain injuries can be fairly benign and almost seem too trivial to worry about. Most people perceive that TBIs are caused by major events like a car accident or physical assault, however most TBIs are the result of something as common as a fall or a head knock in a sports game.

By preventing falls around the house and wearing headgear while playing sports, you can protect yourself and help to limit the number of brain injuries that occur annually.

Fact #4: Women are at higher risk for TBIs

While it still remains unclear why women are at a higher risk of acquiring a TBI than men, over 33 percent of women over the age of 15 have experienced some form of ‘partner violence’.

Why is this essential to know?

The media focuses on TBIs caused by professional sports— the condition called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has virtually daily coverage in today’s media.

However, far more women suffer TBIs as a result of falls at the home and domestic violence.

Fact #5: 90% of TBIs result in some form of visual impairment

According to the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association, 90 percent of TBI patients experience visual problems as a result of a concussion. The most common visual disturbances include:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Headaches due to eye strain
  • Difficulty reading
  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Eye movement complications

Why is this essential to know?

The effects of a TBIs on visual function are now well understood and many eye doctors are trained in this specific field.

What to do next?

Diagnosis and management of any visual problem caused by a TBI is now available in practically every major city throughout the USA.

LEARN MORE:  Guide to Neuro-Optometry

If you or a loved one present with any vision problems following a TBI, schedule an appointment with an eye doctor experienced in treating TBIs.

These eye doctors will be able to diagnose a vision problem, and discuss treatment options with you. A neuro-optometric rehabilitation program will typically be recommended to help recover the visual skills adversely impacted by the brain injury.