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Brain Injury Guide— Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Approximately 1.4 million people in the United States experience a traumatic brain injury every year. Approximately 50,000 people die every year as a result of brain injury, and 235,000 are hospitalized due to their injury. It is estimated that there are more than 5 million people in the U.S. living with a traumatic brain injury.
What Causes Brain Injury?
Brain injuries are usually the result of trauma. Trauma to the brain may occur as a result of motor vehicle accidents, falls, recreational activities and violence (assault). There are two types of brain injury: penetrating injuries and blunt trauma injuries. Penetrating injuries occur as a result of a foreign object penetrating the skull, such as a bullet or a sharp object. These injuries are often fatal. Surgery is often needed to remove the penetrating object and any debris left behind, such as pieces of bone from a shattered skull. Blunt head injuries result from a direct blow to the head or a rapid deceleration process which causes the brain to ricochet within the skull. Blunt head injuries can occur from a fall, a motor vehicle accident or from being hit on the head with a blunt object.
What are the Symptoms of Brain Injury?
Brain injury may cause only mild symptoms initially, or may be immediately life threatening, depending on the severity and mechanism of the brain injury. Common symptoms of brain injury include:
• Loss of consciousness (may be brief or prolonged)
• Headache
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Dizziness
• Memory loss (transient or long term)
• Behavioral changes
• Blurred vision
• Irritability
• Seizures
• Balance problems
Which symptoms are present is dependent upon the severity of the injury and which part of the brain is injured.
When Should You Seek Medical Care?
Anytime a brain injury is suspected, the victim should be transported to the nearest emergency room without delay. Complaints of vision problems, headache, and nausea and vomiting are frequent and common signs of brain injury and should prompt physician evaluation. Changes in behavior, such as irritability, forgetfulness and excessive sleepiness are also red flags. It is always wise to err on the side of caution if you suspect a brain injury. Ignoring a potential brain injury could have dire consequences.
How are Brain Injuries Treated?
People who have suffered mild brain injuries can often be observed at home, providing there is someone responsible for their care and they can return to the hospital easily and quickly should their condition deteriorate.
People who experience more severe brain injuries will be hospitalized and observed. They may require surgery if they have suffered a penetrating brain injury. Victims will be monitored for signs of increasing intracranial pressure, which can be life threatening and may require surgery to relieve pressure on the brain.
Specialized tests may be required to determine the extent of the brain injury. Tests may include a CT of the brain, MRI of the brain and other tests as deemed necessary. People with severe brain injuries may require monitoring in an ICU (Intensive Care Unit).
What is the Prognosis for Brain Injury?
The prognosis of a brain injury will be dependent on many factors, such as the type and mechanism of injury, what part of the brain is affected by the brain injury, the age and prior health condition of the victim, and other factors. Even mild head injuries can have lasting effects; therefore medical attention should be sought any time a brain injury is suspected.
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About Author
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  Published Date - July 23 2010
  Total Views - 592
  Total Votes - 1
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  Mr. James Hopes
The author and webmaster of Catastrophic Injury Resource Center providing a Brain Injury | Traumatic Brain Injuries and more.
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