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About Brain Injury

 

1. What is a traumatic brain injury?
2. What causes traumatic brain injury?
3. How is TBI classified into mild, moderate, or severe?
4. What is the Glasgow Coma Scale?
5. What are the possible effects of brain injury?
6. Brain Injury Statistics
7. Where can I learn more about brain injury?

1. What is a traumatic brain injury?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a blow or jolt to the head or penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of such an injury may range from “mild” — a brief change in mental status or consciousness — to “severe”— an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. A TBI can result in short or long-term problems with independent function.

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2. What causes traumatic brain injury?
Common causes of TBI include:

  • Falls (48%)
  • Motor vehicle – traffic (20%)
  • Struck by/against events (17%)
  • Other- assaults, self-harm, etc. (15%)
  • Blasts are a leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in war zones.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

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3. How is TBI classified into mild, moderate, or severe
TBI classification is based on the length of time a person is unconscious, the presence of memory loss or post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), and the Glasgow Coma score:

 


TBI Classification

Loss of consciousness

Memory loss or PTA

Glasgow Coma Score

Mild/concussion

None — less than 30 min.

Lasting less than 24 hrs.

13 - 15

Moderate

More than 30 min., but less than 24 hrs.

Lasting 24 hrs up to 7 days

9 - 12

Severe

More than 24 hrs.

Lasting 7 days of more

8 or less

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4. What is the Glasgow Coma Scale?
The Glasgow Coma Scale is used to help determine the severity of TBI.  Responses are scored using three measures (eye opening, best verbal response, and the best motor response) and are scored separately, and then combined. 
Score: Eye score (E) + Motor score (M) + Verbal score (V) = 3 to 15


Ability

Score

Eye Opening (E)

 

Spontaneous

4

To speech

3

To pain

2

No response

1

   

Best Motor Response (M)

 

To verbal command: obeys

6

To painful stimulus: localizes pain

5

Flexion: withdrawal

4

Flexion: abnormal

3

Extension

2

No response

1

   

Best Verbal Response (V)

 

Oriented and converses

5

Disoriented and converses

4

Inappropriate words

3

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5. What are the possible effects of brain injury?
Just as each individual is unique, so is each brain injury. Physical disabilities, impaired learning and personality changes are common. Frequently reported problems include:

  • Physical: Speech, Hearing, Paralysis, Headaches, Vision, Seizure Disorder, Muscle Spasticity, Reduced Endurance.
  • Cognitive Impairments: Concentration, Attention, Perceptions, Planning, Communication, Writing Skills, Short Term Memory, Long Term Memory, Judgment, sequencing, Reading Skills, Orientation.
  • Behavioral / Emotional Changes: Fatigue, Anxiety, Low Self-Esteem, Restlessness, Agitation, Mood Swings, Excessive Emotions, Depression, Sexual Dysfunction, Lack of Motivation, Inability to Cope, Self-Centeredness.

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6. Brain Injury Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
How many people have TBI?
Of the 2.87 million who sustain a TBI each year in the United States:
•56,800 die
•288,000 are hospitalized


Who is at highest risk for TBI?
•Males are about 1.5 times as likely as females to sustain a TBI.
•The age groups at highest risk for TBI are 75 years and up, 0 to 4 year olds, and 15 to 24 year olds.
•Certain military duties (e.g., paratrooper) increase the risk of sustaining a TBI.
•African Americans have the highest death rate from TBI.
What are the costs of TBI?
Direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity of TBI totaled an estimated $76.5 billion in the United States in 2010.
What are the long-term consequences of TBI?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 5.3 million Americans currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a TBI.
According to one study, about 40% of those hospitalized with a TBI had at least one unmet need for services one year after their injury. The most frequent unmet needs were:
•Improving memory and problem solving;
•Managing stress and emotional upsets;
•Controlling one's temper; and
•Improving one's job skills.
TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, language, learning, emotions, behavior, and/or sensation. It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age
Source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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7. Where can I learn more about brain injury?
There are many resources available that can help you learn more about brain injury. The Brain Injury Association of America and their state-affiliates including the Brain Injury Association of Michigan have information on brain injury education, prevention, research, and advocacy on their websites.  Find additional links and resources in our Helpful Links section.
Brain Injury Association of America
www.biausa.org
(703)761-0750
1-800-444-6443 – for brain information only
Brain Injury Association of Michigan
www.biami.org
(810) 229-5880
E-Mail: info@biami.org

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