Bumps or jolts to the head can cause TBIs that disrupt the normal function of the brain and can result in long term or permanent disability. The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can range from nausea or dizziness to more pressing issues like paralysis, numbness, or epilepsy. TBIs can occur in a broad range of activities including accidents during sports games (like playing football), falls, or car collisions.
Mild TBIs, or concussions, include any blow to the head that alters regular brain function. In general, concussions are classified as “mild” brain injuries. However, this is inaccurate because any injury to the brain can manifest severe symptoms days or even weeks later. Common symptoms for mild TBIs include headaches, nausea, difficulty sleeping, vomiting, fatigue, drowsiness, loss of consciousness, confusion/disorientation, slurred speech, and loss of balance. People also experience sensitivity to light or sounds, ringing ears, blurry vision, and bad tastes. Finally, memory lapses, concentration issues, depression, anxiety, and mood swings can occur.
Concussions most frequently occur during physical sports, such as football, soccer, gymnastics, and cheer. TBIs are also common in car accidents. It can take several months for normal brain activity to resume. During this recovery period, the brain is vulnerable to significant damage if it suffers a second concussion.
Moderate TBIs are more serious injuries and can occur in similar ways as mild concussions. Common symptoms include: repeated vomiting, convulsions, inability to wake up, dilated pupils, leaking fluids from ear or nose, loss of coordination, numbness in extremities, persistent and long-term headaches, and loss of consciousness for minutes or hours. Moreover, the cognitive decline is more pronounced including agitation and aggression, slurred speech, profound confusion, and comas.
TBIs can be caused by any activity that exposes the head to a risk of trauma. Some common examples include:
- Falls: head injuries often happen when people fall from trees or climbing spaces, ladders, or down stairs.
- Vehicle collisions: car, motorcycle, and truck accidents also account for a significant portion of TBIs.
- Sports Injuries: TBIs are common in boxing, football, lacrosse, snowboarding, skiing, skateboarding, hockey, cheer, gymnastics, and many extreme or dangerous sports.
- Violence: domestic violence, mutual fights, and abuse can also result in TBIs.