Learn About Brain Injury
Brain injury may be caused by trauma to the head or by a non-traumatic cause such as a tumor, aneurysm, anoxia or infection.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as a blow or jolt to the head or a 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," i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to "severe," i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury. A TBI can result in short or long-term problems with independent function.
The Leading Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury are:
- Falls (28%)
- Motor vehicle-traffic crashes (20%)
- Struck by/against (19%)
- Assaults (11%)
Blasts are a leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in war zones.
What are the long-term consequences of Traumatic Brain Injury?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that at least 3.17 million Americans have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a TBI.
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.
What is a Non-Traumatic Brain Injury?
When most people think of brain injuries, they usually associate them with some sort of physical impact such as a car accident or an injury sustained in military combat. But there is another class of brain injuries known as non-traumatic brain Injury.
A non-traumatic brain Injury can be the result of an illness, oxygen deprivation, metabolic disorders, aneurysms, cardiac arrest, near-drowning experience, etc. In short, it includes injuries to the brain that are not caused by an external physical force to the head. Other nonviolent circumstances like tumors and lead poisoning can also injure the brain.
Even though the effects of a non-traumatic brain Injury are comparable to those affiliated with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), there are some dramatic differences. Previously mentioned and most important, they do not feature any outer blow to the head. Non-traumatic brain injury also has a direct impact on cells throughout the brain. Because it attacks the cellular structure, a non-traumatic brain Injury has the ability to spread to all areas of the brain as opposed to TBI, which only affects concentrated areas.
The most common instances of non-traumatic brain injury include:
- Anoxic injury: The brain receives inadequate levels of oxygen, usually following cardiac arrest when there is minimal to no blood reaching the brain.
- Toxic or metabolic injury: This occurs after coming into contact with unsafe substances (e.g., lead) or the detrimental accumulation of chemicals manufactured within the body (e.g., kidney failure).
- Encephalitis: This is caused by an infection of the brain.
- Virus: This is the most common cause of non-traumatic brain injury.
- Brain tumors and methods used to treat them: Chemotherapy and radiation can lead to diffuse brain injury.
- Drug abuse