Traumatic brain injuries occur at an alarming rate in the United States. According to Brainline.org, traumatic brain injuries affect 2.8 million Americans each year. Approximately 50,000 of those cases are fatal, while another 282,000 people require hospitalization and the remaining receive treatment in emergency rooms. Although the majority of incidents involve mild brain injuries, all brain injuries can potentially lead to long-term damage and may affect a person’s quality of life and ability to work.
An injured victim may not notice the signs of a brain injury for hours or even days after the accident occurred. As the soft tissue of the brain hits against the hard skull bone, it can cause the tissue to tear, bleed, bruise and swell. Over time, the damage may worsen and the victim may experience a wide range of symptoms depending on the site and severity of the injury. These include the following:
- Persistent headaches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness, trouble concentrating and fatigue
- Muscle weakness and tingling in the extremities
- Blurry vision and other sensory deficiencies
There are a host of therapies available to rehabilitate people who suffer from traumatic brain injuries, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and psychological counseling. Studies show, however, that even with treatment, patients may suffer irreversible damage and have trouble functioning even years after the initial injury.
A study published in Neurology discovered that damage found within injured patients’ white matter was still damaged one year after the initial screening. Researchers used the Glasgow Coma Scale to measure patients’ general movement, eye movement and verbal activity after they received a diagnosis of mild, moderate and severe brain damage. They also used diffusion tensor imaging to find damaged cells caused by a traumatic brain injury.
As studies on brain injuries continue, researchers can find out more about brain injuries and develop new strategies to treat them.