Brain injuries could mean many things, from a small bump on the head to serious, potentially fatal trauma. A brain injury is any trauma to the scalp, skull or brain. Every year, about 1.4 million Americans suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI); roughly 50,000 of them will die, and another 80,000 to 90,000 will suffer significant disability. About half of these cases come from motor vehicle accidents. Among older individuals, falls are often to blame, and military personnel are often at risk of brain injuries as well. More than half of traumatic brain injury cases are bad enough to send people to the hospital.
Severe cases of traumatic brain injury are broken down into two types: closed and penetrating. Closed TBI refers to an injury caused by the movement of the brain inside the skull, which may come from falls, a car accident or being struck by an object. Penetrating TBI is an injury caused by a foreign object entering the skull from, for example, a gunshot or being struck by a sharp object.
Common brain injuries include concussion, which some doctors categorize as a mild traumatic brain injury because they are usually not life threatening (though concussions still serious and require medical attention); contusion, or a bruise on the brain; and scalp wounds and skull fractures.
Treatment and prognosis will depend on the injury. Severe brain injuries can affect a person’s thinking, sensations, language and emotion; traumatic brain injury can also be associated with post traumatic stress disorder, and individuals with severe injuries will most likely need rehabilitation.