Every year, approximately 1.7 million people in the US suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and another 795,000 sustain an acquired brain injury (ABI). As a result of these injuries, more than 3.1 million children and adults in the country have some form of lifelong disability. Many of these head injuries—and disabilities—could be prevented.
Types of Head Injuries
Head injuries can be either external or internal. External injuries affect only the scalp. They may cause a “goose egg,” which occurs when the veins in the scalp leak fluid into or under the scalp. Goose eggs generally look bruised or discolored, but the swelling should subside after a few days. It’s important to remember that the scalp is filled with blood vessels, so cuts to the scalp tissue may seem to bleed heavily and look worse than they really are.
Internal injuries, on the other hand, may be more difficult to diagnose. A blow to the head can cause bruising and swelling of the brain, which may not result in any outward signs of injury. This type of damage is called a traumatic brain injury. A TBI may be very mild, or it could be extremely severe. Concussions account for about 75% of TBI, making them the most common injury in this category.
The most common causes of TBI vary by patient age. For instance, among school-age children, concussions due to sports are more common, while falls cause TBI more often among older adults. Meanwhile automobile accidents are a leading cause of TBI among people of all age groups. Here are some tips to protect you and your family from sustaining a TBI:
· Always wear a seat belt when using a motorized vehicle. Use appropriate child restraints (car seat, booster, or seat belt) for all children.
· Never drive under the influence of any substances or alcohol.
· Store firearms unloaded in a locked safe or cabinet, and keep ammunition in a separate, secure location.
· Make sure that family members wear helmets for contact sports and activities such as bike riding, skateboarding, or playing baseball.
· Remove tripping hazards in the home and in the yard. Indoors, extension cords and area rugs are frequent culprits. Outside, garden hoses and misplaced toys can be dangerous.
· Cover playground surfaces with a shock-absorbing material (wood chips, mulch, sand or rubberized surface).
For more information on protecting your family from head injuries, visit us at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute. As a Level 2 Trauma Center, we’re equipped to respond to TBI and any other injury or illness. Call Consult-a-Nurse® at 1-800-382-3522 for answers to your health questions and free referrals to physicians in the Fort Pierce area.