Brain injury is unpredictable in its consequences. Brain injury affects who we are, the way we think, act and feel. It can change everything about us in a matter of seconds. The most important things to remember include:
- A person with a brain injury is a person first.
- No two brain injuries are exactly the same.
- The effects of a brain injury are complex and vary greatly from person to person.
- The effects of a brain injury depend on such factors as cause, location, and severity.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
A TBI is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.
2.4 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Injury Prevention, the leading causes of TBI are:
- Falls (35.2%)
- Motor vehicle-traffic crashes (17.3%)
- Struck by/against events (16.5%)
- Assaults (10%)
Acquired Brain Injury
An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain, which is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. An acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that has occurred after birth.
There is sometimes confusion about what is considered an acquired brain injury. By definition, any traumatic brain injury (e.g., from a motor vehicle accident, or assault) could be considered an acquired brain injury. In the field of brain injury, acquired brain injuries are typically considered any injury that is nontraumatic. Examples of acquired brain injury include stroke, near drowning, lack of oxygen to the brain, tumor, neurotoxins, electric shock or lightening strike.
An Injured Brain
When a brain injury occurs, the functions of the neurons, nerve tracts, or sections of the brain can be affected. If the neurons and nerve tracts are affected, they can be unable or have difficulty carrying the messages that tell the brain what to do. This can change the way a person thinks, acts, feels, and moves the body. Brain injury can also change the complex internal functions of the body, such as regulating body temperature; blood pressure; bowel and bladder control. These changes can be temporary or permanent. They may cause impairment or a complete inability to perform a function.