A brain injury is caused by damage to the individual neurons that make up the function of the brain. These neurons are damaged when the brain suffers injury from something striking the head, the head striking another object, or from an acceleration/deceleration motion of the head causing the brain to collide with the inside of the skull. Brain injuries are common in car accidents, cycling crashes and falls.
Even Seemingly Minor Concussions Should Be Treated As Serious Brain Injuries
Most of us are accustomed to hearing the term concussion which we associate with a sports injury or fall. Many people assume a concussion is not a big deal and the symptoms will pass. But, a concussion is a form of brain injury and must be taken seriously.
Injuries to the brain are called traumatic brain injuries. They are classified as mild, moderate or severe. Even mild traumatic brain injuries can have profound lifelong effects on brain function and someone’s quality of life. A traumatic brain injury occurs when there has been a traumatic physiological disruption of brain function. This disruption of brain function may be observed in one of the following common ways:
- Any period of loss of consciousness;
- Any loss of memory for events immediately before or after the accident;
- Any alteration of mental state at the time of the accident (feeling dazed, disoriented or confused); or
- Any focal neurological deficit (injury to a nerve of the brain or spine for instance.)
Emergency medical personnel (EMS or emergency room) will evaluate someone who’s been involved in an accident using a Glasgow Coma Scale to measure their brain function and awareness. The highest score a person may have is 15. A person may be classified as having a mild traumatic brain injury if their Glasgow Coma Scale is between 13 and 15 within 30 minutes of an accident, their loss of consciousness (if any) was less than 30 minutes and any posttraumatic amnesia (their inability to remember events before or after the accident) lasts less than 24 hours.
Anyone who has suffered a blow to the head or a significant acceleration/deceleration of their head in an accident and shows any of these symptoms should be carefully evaluated at the earliest opportunity by physician. A brain injury can become a serious permanent injury and be a very important part of evaluating someone’s case after an accidental injury.