Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, regardless of the victim’s age. However, according to the CDC, babies, children and adolescents are at the greatest risk due to their thin skulls and still-developing brains. The elderly are also at high risk because they have the highest rates of falls among adults.
Traumatic brain injuries can range from mild to severe. The severity of the injury is determined by whether loss of consciousness occurred, how long it lasted and what symptoms are present. While most of these incidents are mild and non-life-threatening, they can still cause long-term or permanent issues.
Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury
The symptoms of traumatic brain injury vary with the degree of severity. These can include:
- Loss of consciousness
- No memory of the event that caused the injury
- Inability to recall events that occurred within 24 hours before or after the incident
- Impaired ability to learn and remember information
- Dizziness, nausea and vomiting
- Slurred or incoherent speech
- Blurred vision
- Emotional or behavioral disturbances
- Altered sleep patterns
- In severe cases, coma or death
Types of Traumatic Brain Injury
Mild traumatic brain injuries are also called concussions. There may be no loss of consciousness, or it may occur but last under 30 minutes. Symptoms typically show up immediately following or shortly after the incident though, in another case, a victim’s injuries may not manifest for days or even weeks. These are normally temporary and resolve within a similar time frame, but they can also last months.
In moderate brain injuries, unconsciousness lasts for over 30 minutes. Symptoms are like those seen with mild brain injury, but they last longer.
Severe injuries typically result in loss of consciousness lasting 24 hours or longer. Symptoms are similar to those seen in less severe traumatic brain injury, but they last even longer and are more severe.
What To Do When An Injury Occurs
If you or another person suffers a blow to the head and shows signs of brain injury, it’s strongly recommended to obtain medical assistance, even if the symptoms are mild. If the victim remains unconscious for more than a few minutes, has seizures, vomits repeatedly or exhibits worsening symptoms over time, call 911 right away. It’s also advised to contact emergency services if anyone was thrown from or hit by a car or fell from more than three feet. Serious brain injury may be present even if the person doesn’t lose consciousness or if their symptoms disappear rapidly.