Brain injuries a serious matter
April 10, 2012 12:08PM
Updated: May 12, 2012 8:01AM
NEW LENOX — A brain injury can happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone.
In fact, according to the National Brain Injury Association, 1.7 million people will sustain a brain injury each year. An injury that happens in an instant can bring a lifetime of physical, cognitive and behavior challenges, but early, equal and adequate access to care will greatly increase overall quality of life.
The Centers for Disease and Control Injury Prevention Center says the leading causes of traumatic brain injury are falls, motor vehicle accidents and assault.
Emergency personnel and other specialists typically determine the severity of a brain injury by using an assessment called the Glascow Coma Scale. The terms mild brain injury, moderate brain injury and severe brain injury are used to describe the level of initial injury in relation to the neurological severity caused to the brain.
“Keep in mind that there is nothing mild about a brain injury — the term “mild” brain injury is used to describe a level of neurological injury,” said Dr. Thomas Hurley, board-certified neurosurgeon on staff at Silver Cross Hospital. “Any injury to the brain is a real and serious medical condition.”
After an impact to the head, a person with a brain injury can experience a variety of symptoms, including the following:
Spinal fluid coming out of the ears or nose
Loss of consciousness; however, loss of consciousness may not occur in some concussion cases
Dilated or unequal size of pupils
Dizziness and balance problems
Respiratory failure (not breathing)
Coma or semicomatose state
Paralysis, difficulty moving body parts, weakness and poor coordination
Slow breathing rate, with an increase in blood pressure
Ringing in the ears, or changes in ability to hear
Difficulty with thinking skills
Inappropriate emotional responses
Difficulty speaking, slurred speech or difficulty swallowing
Body numbness or tingling
Loss of bowel control or bladder control
A person with a suspected brain injury should contact a physician immediately, go to the emergency room or call 911 in the case of an emergency.