Everything you need to know about brain injuries, how they may impact your life, and what steps you can take to protect yourself.
If you’ve ever bumped your head on a low ceiling or a cupboard that you accidentally left open, you probably experienced a bit of discomfort. More severe bumps, jolts, or blows to the head can result in traumatic brain injuries. Brain injuries most commonly occur in accidents, falls, sports, and by blunt force, and they can range from mild to fatal. It is crucial to take these injuries seriously regardless of their severity to prevent long-term symptoms, brain damage or disabilities.
The Invisible Injury
Often people refer to brain injuries as ‘The Invisible Injury.’ It’s hard to imagine an injury on your brain because – well – you can’t see it. The fluid surrounding your brain makes it float around inside your skull. When the head and skull are struck or jolted severely, this causes the brain to crash and scrape against the inside of the skull. Consequently, this results in bruising or bleeding in the brain or destructed brain cells.
You do not have to hit your head to get a brain injury. For example, you may sustain a brain injury in a car accident if the impact caused you to move or turn your head suddenly and violently. Such movements can twist or stretch the nerve cells and fibres in the brain.
How brain injuries affect you and others
A brain injury can affect the victim both physically and mentally. Symptoms of brain injuries vary and differ depending on the individual, and the severity of the damage. Nonetheless, even mild brain injuries typically require two weeks of rest with as little brain stimulation as possible (e.g., reading, watching tv, exercise, looking at phone and computer screens). In situations of severe traumatic brain injuries, a victim may not be able to live independently, and their family may take on the responsibility of caring for them.
In all instances, victims and families must have quick access to financial assistance and insurance coverage if needed. A brain injury can affect both victims and their families financially and emotionally. In some instances, issues and complications with insurance companies or other parties may arise where legal help may be necessary.
Accidents can happen; some situations are simply beyond our control. However, there are steps you can take and small things you can do to reduce your risk of sustaining a brain injury:
- Wear a helmet when you are required to do so (i.e., in sports, horse-riding, biking, on a motorcycle)
- Always wear your seatbelt, and ensure passengers are wearing one as well
- Wear non-slip footwear when and where required
- Use non-slip mats in the home and the bathtub or shower
- Do not text and drive
- Do not drive under the influence
- Be aware of your surroundings
You should always take a brain injury seriously. Even if you don’t experience symptoms right away, a second or consecutive impact or injury could be fatal – known as second impact syndrome (SIS). If you think you or someone you know has sustained a brain injury, seek medical help immediately and follow the directions given to you by health professionals.