Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are becoming more common as diagnosis and treatment methods improve. This injury is caused by a bump or a blow to the head that disrupts normal brain function, but not all bumps to the head cause TBI.
Cases range from mild to severe and can result in death. In the most severe cases, TBI can cause permanent disability or loss of mental functions and memories. In more mild cases, the effects subside after a few days. Concussions, for example, are a mild form of TBI.
The number of TBI injuries and deaths per year are surprising. Each year 1.7 million people sustain a TBI. Of those, more than 52,000 die. TBI accounts for one-third of all injury-related deaths. For perspective, that translates to 153 people per day dying of TBI-related injuries. Annually, 275,000 people are hospitalized for a TBI, and 1.365 million people are treated and released for TBI. An estimated 5.3 million Americans are living with a TBI.
Concussion-related brain damage has become a prominent worry. Although often linked to professional sports and the armed forces, brain damage can occur in a car accident or after a serious fall. In fact, falls are the leading cause of a TBI, accounting for nearly half of all TBI cases. Motor vehicle accidents are the third most common cause, coming in at 19 percent of all injuries. Drivers and passengers alike can suffer a TBI upon impact if their head strikes against the side of the car.
An ongoing challenge for diagnosing TBI is that symptoms can occur at different times, even showing up days after the injury. A new test to diagnose TBI called the Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator (BBTI), has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. If the BBTI has is adopted as the standard for testing, it could eliminate the need for CT scans.
Currently, the standard procedure is to perform a neurological exam followed by a CT scan to diagnose brain injuries. The new test measures the levels of proteins released into the blood within 12 hours following an injury. This is important for accident victims since medical professionals are often focused on life-threatening injuries. This can cause doctors to overlook a TBI diagnosis.
If you were in a car accident or suffered a slip and fall, getting checked for a TBI is paramount. Undiagnosed TBI injuries can worsen and take longer to heal.