Holiday Cheers without Falling Fears
December 18, 2017

Traumatic Brain Injury ~ Avoid Becoming Another Statistic

A head or brain injury can provide minor disruption in one’s life or have long lasting and devastating effects.  Wearing a helmet, when Biking, Skiing, Snowboarding, Equestrian Activities, Recreational Ice Skating, Figure Skating, Sledding, Climbing, and while engaged in other enjoyable outdoors activity is an easy and responsible step toward prevention.

According to Fleminger & Ponsford (2005), head injury (HI) is a leading cause of disability and survivors often suffer cognitive, mood, and behavioral disorders. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) typically results from either a direct or an indirect impact to
the head and neck when the body is stopped or accelerated rapidly.

The Head Injury Interdisciplinary Special Interest Group of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine defines mild traumatic head injury as ‘‘a traumatically induced physiologic disruption of brain function, as manifested by one of the following:
-Loss of consciousness (LOC);
-Memory loss (before or after the incident)
-Change in mental state
-Neurologic deficits that may have short or long term consequences”

To understand how a brain injury can lead to such disabilities, it is useful to understand the basic anatomy of the brain. The brain has three primary components: the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brain-stem. Each is responsible for different functions.

The brain can receive several different types of injuries depending on the location of the damage, and the type and amount of force that impacts the head.

There are five types of traumatic brain injuries:

  1. Concussion (any neurological dysfunction with or without loss of consciousness)
  2. Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) (shaking or rotation of the head causing tearing of axons)
  3. Contusion or blood clots (brain bruise or bleeding)
  4. Coup-contrecoup injury (injury at site of impact as well as on opposite side of head) and
  5. Secondary impact syndrome or recurrent TBI (two consecutive head injuries with insufficient healing time between the first and second injury)

The skull is very thin, and the brain very soft. It does not take a large force to result in a head injury. The vital functions of the brain coupled with the inability of brain tissue to repair, often results in patients’ suffering permanent injury and disability. Helmets have been found to be effective in reducing the risk of head injuries in over 80% of cases, considered as effective in preventing the severity of head injuries, and we highly recommend it.

Research surrounding the effectiveness of helmet programs is limited. Currently, and to my knowledge, there is lack of studies that measure the effectiveness of programs to raise awareness and encourage prevention strategies.

Potential Action Step:

  • Encourage and work with all recreational and competitive activity programs to adopt mandatory helmet regulations for all ages while engaged in risk increasing activities and training,
  • Increase education initiatives, and support helmet and/or other protective gear,
  • Public Service Announcements (PSAs), education sessions, brochures and posters suggesting the use and benefits of wearing protective gear.

For more information on TBI, please visit:

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Traumatic-Brain-Injury-Information-Page

https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/index.html

http://biaaz.org/

References:

King, A. I. (2018). The Biomechanics of Impact Injury Biomechanical Response, Mechanisms of Injury, Human Tolerance and Simulation. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Brain Injury Association of America. (n.d.). Types of traumatic brain injury. Retrieved
from http://www.biausa.org/Pages/types_of_brain_injury.html#tbi.