Brain injury is any injury to the brain. Sometimes it is referred to as a TBI – Traumatic Brain Injury. This means that it is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or is a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain. Frequently, one will hear the term ABI – Acquired Brain Injury. This simply means a brain injury, which is not hereditary, congenital or degenerative. Whatever term is assigned, a brain injury is a devastating and life-changing event.
The most frequent cause of brain injury in the United States is falls. In Kentucky, the most frequent cause of brain injury and brain injury related death is motor vehicle traffic accidents. Teens, especially male, are the most likely to sustain a brain injury or die of a brain injury because of a motor vehicle accident. Teens in Kentucky make up 1 in 10 deaths on Kentucky highways and one in 6 of the severe injuries.
Other causes of brain injury include:
- Illnesses, such as infections, tumors, seizures, strokes, vein disorders
- Alcoholism and substance abuse
- Suicide attempts
- Shaken baby
- Gun shot
- Too little oxygen to the brain from heart attack, near suffocation or drowning
Symptoms of a brain injury may include:
- Poor coordination, balance, or muscle control (standing, walking)
- Slurred speech and/or blurred vision or impaired hearing
- Impaired attention, concentration, memory or understanding
- Difficulty controlling anger and/or aggressive behavior
- Confusion, disorientation, dizziness or distractibility
- Delayed thought processing and response time
- Depression, irritability, restlessness, impatience, anxiety or agitation
- Impaired judgment, insight or reasoning and planning skills
- Inappropriate or impulsive behavior
- Seizures, headaches, fatigue or other medical conditions
- Brain injury affects one in five households in Kentucky (19.4%).(1)
- Brain injuries are six times more prevalent than breast cancer, Aids, HIV, spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis combined. (1)
- Approximately 850,000 Kentuckians live with a brain injury. (1)
- Brain injuries are Kentucky’s number one killer based on population. (1)
- Kentucky’s rate of brain injury is more than twice the national average. (1)
- Brain injuries are the leading cause of death and disability in young children. (2)
- Males account for approximately two-thirds of brain injuries. (1)
- Kentucky’s occupational death rate due to brain injury is 60% higher than the national average. (3)
- The brain injury death and injury rate on Kentucky highways rose from 11% in 2000 to 29% in 2004. (1)
- In the next 12 months, 22,500 Kentuckians will sustain new brain injuries severe enough to require hospital care. (4)
- Severe brain injury lifetime of lost wages is approximately 1.5 million dollars.
- Severe brain injury lifetime of medical expenses is approximately 1.5 million dollars.
- Moderate brain injury costs are eleven times higher than with a mild brain injury.
- Severe brain injury costs are forty times higher than with a mild brian injury.
- The only cures for brain injury are awareness, prevention and research.
(1) Kentucky Traumatic Brain Injury Prevalence Study 2004
(2) Brain Injury Association
(3) University of Louisville of Medicine
(4) Kentucky Injury Prevention Research Center