Most people hearing the term “TBI,” or Traumatic Brain Injury, may automatically assume the cause is a catastrophic car collision, or perhaps a fall from a ladder.
But really, a Traumatic Brain Injury is a serious public health matter that can be caused by something as simple as a bump, a blow or a jolt to the head. It may also come from a more serious injury, such as a vehicular collision or sports-related incident.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most recent statistics show that almost 3 million emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths in the U.S. were related to TBI. Of those, an estimated 837,000 involved children.
Traumatic Brain Injuries are classified from mild to severe, which would involve a significant time of unconsciousness or even amnesia after an injury.
The term “TBI” has become more widely known since the discussion of sports-related concussions, as well as severe head injuries suffered by military members in the war zone.
Generally, however, the people at the most risk for suffering such an injury are people older than 65 and children. The CDC has embarked on a campaign to inform people that many brain injuries, including concussions, are preventable.
Falls are said to be the leading cause of all Traumatic Brain Injuries, and generally adults age 75 and older have the highest rate of hospitalizations and death associated with TBI. The statistics were alarming enough that the CDC created its own initiative to help healthcare providers include “fall risk assessments” and “individualize fall prevention interventions” into their practices. They also included having healthcare providers advise patients about strength and balance exercises and medication management to reduce falls. The initiative was dubbed the STEADI initiative or Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries. The idea, according to the CDC, is to remind healthcare providers and their patients that falls are not an inevitable part of aging, and that steps can be taken to prevent them.
To help reduce the possibility of suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury from a fall, healthcare providers and CDC leaders encourage patients to speak candidly with about fall risks, and review medications that may make the user dizzy or drowsy. Healthcare providers can also advise about exercises to improve a patient’s balance and strength, and encourage a patient to have their eyes and feet checked annually. Additionally, the incidences of suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury may be reduced by making your home safer – no matter your age. This can be something as simple as removing clutter from the floor and walkways, such as books and clothes; removing small throw rugs or using double-sided tape to keep rugs from slipping; improving lighting and using non-slip mats in the bathtub and on shower floors.
Considering that an estimated 153 Americans die every day from TBI-related injuries, those are small steps to help someone avoid becoming a statistic. While fatalities aren’t always the outcome, many people who suffer from a TBI may have lasting effects and disabilities from having a brain injury.
To improve the understanding of Traumatic Brain Injuries and their prevention, the CDC has everything from mobile apps to graphics and podcasts to help not only healthcare providers learn but people of all ages. Specialty information is also available at www.cdc.gov/HEADSUP for seniors, parents, schools, coaches, sports officials, and children.