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Traumatic brain injuries: From minor to acute

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) changes your life immediately. While some injuries last only a short time before recovery, many have lasting effects. A TBI occurs when the head suddenly jolts forward or backward. At that point, the brain moves. If the head hits a surface, the brain may impact the skull. Even if the head only twists quickly, it's possible to suffer brain injuries from sheering as the brain can't keep up with the momentum of the skull.

Symptoms of traumatic brain injuries range from minor to severe. Mild cases may last only a short time and be linked to brief changes in your behaviors or consciousness. Acute cases have the potential to change personalities, cause extended periods of unconsciousness or result in death.

Traumatic brain injuries cause around 235,000 hospitalizations each year. Of these individuals, around 80,000 to 90,000 develop long-term or lifelong disabilities due to their injuries.

In 50 to 70 percent of all cases, motor vehicle accidents are to blame for the TBIs. Approximately half of all people who are going to die as a result of their injuries from a TBI do so within two hours of the injury, showing the importance of immediate care. Those ages 30 or older have a higher risk of mortality after a head injury. Those 60 or older have the highest risk of death.

Crashes that cause these injuries are, on the whole, avoidable. Those who suffer a brain injury may suffer for years or a lifetime as a result of a collision. These patients deserve the best health care and support from those who caused the crash.

Source: American Association of Neurological Surgeons, "Traumatic Brain Injury," accessed Sep. 29, 2017

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