A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs because of sudden damage to the brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “ TBI is a form of nondegenerative acquired brain injury resulting from a bump, blow, or jolt to the head (or body) or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function.” Traumatic brain injuries are not uncommon, as the CDC estimates nearly 2.8 million Americans sustain a TBI each year. Although they can occur to anyone at any time, the New York State Department of Health explains “children under the age of one and adults 65 years and older are most likely to sustain a TBI severe enough to require hospitalization; 15 to 19 year-olds have the third highest rate.” TBIs are classified as mild TBIs or moderate to severe TBIs. No two TBIs are the same, and the severity of a TBI will vary significantly, as they depend on a confluence of contributing factors (e.g., the type of injury, the severity of the injury, area of the brain that was injured, etc.). A TBI is caused by an external force that injures the brain and can occur from a variety of circumstances.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons provides a larger estimated range, asserting that there are 1.7 to 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries that occur in the United States each year. The Mayo Clinic lists the following common events that could cause a TBI:
- Sports injuries: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approximates that 10 percent arise due to sports and recreational activities.
- Vehicle-related collisions
- Explosive blasts
- Other combat injuries
It is important to note that not all blows or jolts to the head result a severe TBI. In fact, according to the CDC, mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) are commonly referred to as concussions. A specialized committee that falls under the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) developed the following definition: a patient with mild traumatic brain injury is a person who has had a traumatically induced physiological disruption of brain function.
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