There are two classifications of brain injuries. The first is traumatic brain injuries (TBI) which occurs when an external force (like a blow to the head) damages the brain. The other is acquired brain injury (ABI) in which brain damage occurs on a cellular level (such as a stroke). Traumatic Brain injuries are known as the ‘silent epidemic’, 69 million people worldwide are estimated to suffer from it. South East Asian countries are actually one of the worst sufferers of this condition.
The number one leading cause of traumatic brain injuries are falls. This is especially the case for children and the elderly. For children aged 0 to 14 falls account for 50% of TBI causes while for those above the age of 65, it is 60%. These falls can be caused from anything like slipping on a wet bathroom fall, falling out of bed to tripping on uneven steps. However, for elderly individuals falls may be a result of other diseases such as experiencing dizziness from hypertension or dementia. Factors that contribute to your risk factor to falls are lower body weakness, Vitamin D deficiency, alcohol or drug use, medication side effects, vision problems, foot pain, poor footwear and home hazards.
2) Vehicle Collisions
Vehicle collisions are the leading cause for TBI related deaths and hospitalizations. It is also the leading cause of death for people aged 5-25 years. Whiplash, neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, can be especially severe lead and to a TBI. Driving while drunk, distractions (i.e. texting), speeding and inexperience are all common causes of vehicle collisions. Teenagers especially boys are more prone to vehicular crashes. However, the crash rate can be lowered up to 75% if an adult is in the passenger seat.
3) Struck By Or Against An Object
Struck by or against an object includes colliding with a moving or stationary object such as falling debris or being unintentionally hit by another person. Examples are being hit by falling storage boxes, TV and furniture tip-overs, walking into open drawers and opening a door into someone. At 25%, It is the second leading cause of TBI among children aged 0 to 14 years. Currently, cell phone use while walking significantly contributes to these events.
In the general population, assault accounts for 10% of TBIs. Incidences of violence include gunshot wounds, domestic violence and child abuse. However violence is not just cause but also an effect of TBI. The injuries can cause significant cognitive and behavioral problems which result in aggressive behavior that leads to perpetration of violence, or a lack of insight and judgment, and resulting vulnerability, that can lead to victimization.
You might think of dangerous sports like boxing and mixed martial arts as the main culprits but a fair number of other sports contribute to TBI causes as well. This includes football, field/ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, rugby, soccer, wrestling, auto racing, cycling, equestrian, roller blading, skateboarding, skiing, or snowboarding. Some of these repeated head injuries do not appear till later in life. For example, Dementia Pugilistica or Punch Drunk Syndrome, occurs after repeated blows to the head such as from boxing. Sufferers display symptoms of impaired cognition (thinking and remembering), slurred speech, loss of hearing and poor movement.