How to Protect Yourself from a Brain Injury

Dr. Russel Lazarus, December 20, 2020

Over 47 percent of all TBIs are caused by falls, especially for adults over the age of 65.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can occur from an accident, trauma, or sudden blow to the head. While it isn’t always possible to avoid an accident, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself from a brain injury.

What causes TBIs?

Many people think that TBIs are caused by major events like car accidents or physical assaults. However, most TBIs actually occur from common occurrences, such as a fall at home or a head-on collision in a sports game.

Other TBI injuries can result from:

  • Sports injuries (21%)
  • Blunt force trauma (15%)
  • Car accidents (14%)
  • Violent physical assaults (9%)

Visual disturbances following a TBI

According to the Neuro-Optometric Rehabilitation Association (NORA), 90 percent of TBI patients experience the following visual problems:

  • Blurred or double vision
  • Photophobia (light sensitivity)
  • Eye strain and headaches
  • Difficulty reading
  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Eye movement complications
  • Reduced concentration

If you had had a head injury, contact an eye doctor near you, who can diagnose and treat any undiagnosed vision problem.

SEE RELATED: Can a Stroke Cause Vision Problems? 

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4 ways to protect yourself from a brain injury

One of the best ways to protect yourself from a brain injury is to avoid risky behavior altogether. 

However, since this isn’t always possible, if you are going to engage in activities that increase your risk of head injury, be sure to keep these four tips in mind:

1) Wear sports protection

Around 21 percent of TBIs occur from a sports related accident. 

Before heading out to play your favorite sport, be sure to take your protective eyewear and helmet along with you.

Wearing protective gear when playing basketball, baseball, football, hockey, and any other ball or contact sport can help protect you from serious head and eye injuries.

2) Wear sunglasses 

Believe it or not, sunglasses can actually help to prevent many accidents that occur from temporary moments of blindness— such as when you’re driving around the corner and bright sunlight reflects off of your windshield, making it nearly impossible to see clearly.

Sunglasses with polarized lenses block both direct sunlight and reflected light, and add another layer of protection against strong glare.

Sunlight reflects off of smooth surfaces, such as water, snow, pavement, mirrors, and even grass. Therefore, it is important to wear your sunglasses anytime you venture outdoors for a walk, a car ride, and any sports or activities played in the sun— this way you can rest assured that you will be able to see clearly at all times.

Photochromic lenses are another great solution if you wear prescription eyeglasses, as they are clear indoors and darken automatically when exposed to bright light. These lenses will ensure that you never leave your home without protection from the sun’s bright light.

3) Be aware of your surroundings

Being fully aware of your surroundings, whether driving, walking, running, or playing sports can significantly reduce your risk of accident and brain injury.

Since falling is the number one cause of TBI, it is important to scan the floors in your home for any objects that may cause a fall, such as toys or balls, and limit distractions when walking down the stairs or on slippery surfaces.

Also, when walking outdoors, look for loose rocks, raised pavement or ditches in the middle of the sidewalk that could cause a fall— and never text while walking or driving!

4) Wear your seatbelt

The number one way to prevent a TBI from a car accident is by wearing a seatbelt. 

Car accidents are the number one cause of TBI-related deaths in America, especially among adults between the ages of 20 to 24. Seatbelts not only save lives, but also reduce your chances of sustaining life-long brain damage.

Wearing your seatbelt will not only protect you from brain injury, but will also set a good example for your children and help them to get accustomed to this habit for years to come— protecting their lives and their children’s lives as well.

Traumatic brain injuries can cause many different impairments and can significantly affect your quality of life. 

If you have sustained a TBI and are experiencing any visual symptoms, a neuro-optometrist can help. 

LEARN MORE:  Guide to Neuro-Optometry

Schedule a functional vision evaluation to determine if a program of neuro-optometric rehabilitation can help to strengthen your visual skills and reduce any visual symptoms you may be experiencing.