Traumatic brain injury (or TBI) occurs as the result of a traumatic event, which injures the brain. This can be a result of a penetrating injury or a closed injury. Brain damage can occur along the path where an object—such as a bullet or shrapnel—enters the brain. TBI can also occur as a result of sudden acceleration/deceleration of the structures of the brain within the cranium, for example if a hockey player receives a slap shot to the head or as the result of a fall.
TBI is a leading cause of death and disability. It is estimated that the annual incidence of mild TBI is 100 to 600 people per 100,000 worldwide. People between the ages of 15 and 24 experience the highest number of TBI’s. Males have twice the risk of sustaining a TBI than females and four fold the chance of resultant death. The next highest risks for TBI are children 5- to 9-years of age and adults over the age of 80. Let’s take a closer look at TBI and its symptoms…
1. Not All Symptoms Appear Immediately
A closed head injury can be misleading. Often the person is awake, talking and oriented immediately after sustaining a hit to the head. This can be the case after a motor vehicle accident, fall, or sports injury. The absence of any external injury coupled with seemingly normal cognition may give the false impression that everything is okay.
A severe, sudden hit to the head causes the brain to ricochet off the inside of the skull. Back and forth. This can produce internal bleeding and bruising which may continue long after the initial injury. This why a person must be monitored hourly for the first 24-hours after sustaining a concussion for any change in their level of consciousness. Should they become confused, lethargic or non-responsive, medical care must be sought immediately.