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More About Brain Injury

Our last article had information on types of brain injuries. This article has more about brain injury. Keep reading to learn about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) symptoms, initial treatment, preventing brain injury, and brain injury statistics.

If brain injury of any kind is suspected, medical care should be sought as quickly as possible. Because 50% of people who end up dying from a Traumatic Brain Injury do so within 2 hours of the injury, on-scene treatment has been made more of a priority.

Symptoms can include changes in behavior, physical problems such as headaches, dizziness, and lack of balance, nausea, and blurred vision, and cognitive issues, such as attention, memory, or concentration issues.

Initial Treatment for Brain Injury

The treatment of brain injury would begin with an assessment. If the person being considered is a newborn, among the first assessments will be the Apgar Scoring system. The baby is rated at 1 and 5 minutes after birth (and subsequently, if a problem is noticed) on his or her appearance (skin color), pulse, grimace (reflex irritability), activity (muscle tone), and respiration. The common names of the five elements for the acronym APGAR, honoring Dr. Virginia Apgar who devised the test.

When an older patient seeks medical treatment, some things are the same. For example, a patient of any age may be given an age-appropriate neurological exam. In addition, some different assessments are given, depending on circumstances. For example the Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems (TBIMS), which is a national group, has 3 criteria for TBI, only one of which is required for TBI to be diagnosed:

  1. a documented loss of consciousness of any length
  2. amnesia for (inability to recall) the traumatic event
  3. a score less than 15 on a coma inventory called the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) in the first day (24 hours) following the injury.

The GCS divides patients into those with mild, moderate, and severe  conditions.

Since there may be other injuries from the trauma that injured the brain, as well as secondary brain issues, further assessment, in the form of X-rays, Computed Tomography (CT) scan, and other diagnostic tests will likely follow with the treatment from the point of assessment taking into account the person’s entire situation. Since brain injuries have very individual results, the treatment is organized around the particular individual’s symptoms.

Preventing Brain Injury

Some of the steps for lessening the chance of brain injury are common sense safety steps that you may already be taking. They include:

• enforcing seat belt and safety seat rules when driving
• enforcing helmet riding for bikers, skaters, horseback riders, and other sports practices where it is recommended
• using safety gates for children on both windows and stairs
• providing non-slip mats for the bathtub
• making sure children’s outdoor play areas have a shock-absorbent cushion of material
• keeping firearms locked away, out-of-reach
• using discretion when operating a motor vehicle to avoid any kind of impairment

Brain Injury Statistics

About 50,000 people die of TBI each year in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 3.6% of the 1.4 million Americans who suffer a Traumatic Brain Injury each year. The main causes include falls, accidents involving motor vehicles and/or traffic, and being struck by people or against things.

According to the 26th Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004 Vol. 1 Traumatic Brain Injury accounted for the second least or tied for the second least number of students receiving special education and related services of all of the 13 disability categories served by special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act across every race/ethnicity. Again, for all races and ethnicities, deaf-blindness is the category with the fewest students served.

According to the Digest of Education Statistics 2005, published by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), as part of the US Department of Education (USDOE), students with traumatic brain injury have some of the highest graduation rates per year of students with all types of disability.

Written by Mary Elizabeth.

Sources Used for This Article

Digest of Education Statistics

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