LEWISBURG, Tenn. – An estimated 1.7 million people are hospitalized or visit an emergency room each year in the United States due to traumatic brain injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, a time for the Marshall Medical Center (MMC) Emergency Department to remind the public about this important health issue.
About 52,000 deaths occur each year because of traumatic brain injury, while another 80,000 to 90,000 people deal with a long term disability. Brain injuries can vary in severity from mild to severe. Nearly 80 percent of those affected are treated and released from an emergency department, according to the CDC.
According to Dr. Thom Mitchell, emergency department director at MMC, a traumatic brain injury can be caused by a number of events, including falls, accidents and traffic crashes.
One of the most common brain injuries is a concussion. Physical symptoms of a concussion may include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Blurry vision
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems
- Light and noise sensitivity
To help protect your brain or decrease the severity of injury, experts recommend that certified safety helmets be worn by those who participate in biking, motorcycling, skateboarding and similar activities. Always wear a helmet when playing contact sports like football. A helmet should also be worn by those operating or riding all-terrain vehicles. Seatbelts should be worn at all times when in a moving vehicle. Make certain that a child’s safety seat is properly installed and that the child is strapped in correctly.
“If you hit your head and are not sure how serious the injury may be, you should visit the nearest emergency room to be evaluated,” said Dr. Mitchell. “Although head injuries are not always severe, serious and long-term effects can result in some cases and immediate treatment is necessary.”