A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is one which occurs as the result of an external force, sometime after birth. The causes and effects of TBIs can be as varied as the people who sustain them – although there are obviously certain activities which carry a greater risk of head injury. The symptoms can also vary from person to person.
Causes of TBI
The most common causes of traumatic head injuries include:
- road traffic accidents
- sports injuries
- explosive blasts and/or other combat injuries
Only some of these will be preventable.
If you cycle, ride a motorcycle, or take part in any winter or extreme sports such as skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, or BMXing, for example, it is vital that you always wear an appropriate, and well-fitting helmet. Studies consistently show the benefit of wearing helmets.
- Wearing a cycle helmet can reduce the risk of brain injury by up to 88%, and the risk of injury to the upper and mid face by as much as 65%.
- Motorcycle helmets are estimated to reduce the risk of head injury by around 72%.
- Wearing a helmet whilst skiing could reduce the risk of head injury by between 21 and 45%.
Symptoms of TBI
One thing that is important to remember with brain injuries is that the level of external head injury is not always indicative of the damage that may have occurred within. If you, or someone close to you, has suffered a head injury, there are some very important signs to look out for in the days immediately following:
- Any loss of consciousness – in fact if there was a loss of consciousness at the time of the accident, NHS advice is to visit your doctor as soon as possible to get checked out.
- Vomiting – it is not unusual to feel nauseous or to vomit after a blow to the head, but if the nausea and vomiting do not reduce in frequency or intensity over the day or so following the accident, it is time to seek medical attention.
- Clear fluid – if you notice clear fluid leaking from the nose or ears, you must visit A&E immediately. This could be cerebrospinal fluid, and could signify severe injury.
- Excessive blood loss – as with any injury, blood loss can lead to shock and other problems, so you must always get it seen by a doctor, particularly if the blood is not clotting or slowing.
Other symptoms that indicate you may need medical attention include fits, seizures, loss of hearing or speech, memory loss, or a difficulty staying awake.
If in doubt, always see a doctor after any head injury, even if you’re not sure that it was that severe – it is always better to be safe.
A brain injury can be life changing, and sometimes it may have been sustained as the result of an accident that was not your fault. If this is the case, and you wish to research your legal options, have a look on the Free Legal Advice Centre, whose video-based site offers many resources.