A hard bonk on the head can be serious business. That’s the message the Brain Injury Association of America wants to spread during Brain Injury Awareness Month. Every 13 seconds, someone in the U.S. suffers a traumatic brain injury as the result of a playground accident, car crash, assault, fall or sports-related mishap. Even the mildest bump can carry life-altering consequences.
Guess what? There’s a cure. It’s called prevention.
Keep Your Brain Buff
As it turns out, Ben Franklin knew what he was talking about all those years ago: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Here’s how to keep brain power protected:
- Buckle up. Click that seatbelt every time you ride in a moving vehicle. Do the same for your kiddo, too. Make sure you understand Missouri’s child seatbelt law.
- Duck and cover. Wear a helmet when riding a bike, motorcycle or ATV or playing a sport with a high risk for head injury.
- Stay up right. Falls account for almost 41% of traumatic brain injuries. Make your space safer, especially for grandma and grandpa, by removing tripping hazards, installing stair rails and bathroom grab bars, and increasing the amount of lighting (you just got permission to buy that fun new lamp you’ve had your eye on.)
- Protect and serve. Little ones aren’t immune to head injuries. Install window guards to keep them from falling out of open windows, and use safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
Each year, 14,000 Missourians are hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury.
Raise Your Awareness
Traumatic brain injuries are caused by a blow to the head that impacts the brain’s normal function. If you make it through life without having your bell rung at least once, congratulations! However, bumps on the head are pretty common, and you should know how to deal with one should it ever happen.
It’s important to know that some TBI symptoms appear immediately after the accident, while others can show up days or weeks later. Mild concussions, which make up the majority of TBIs, may have no visible symptoms, but can be dangerous down the road. The terms mild, moderate and severe are used to describe the effect the injury has on brain function.
Mild TBI Symptoms
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Blurred vision
- Mood changes or mood swings
- Trouble concentrating
- Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
Moderate to Severe TBI Symptoms
- Loss of consciousness lasting for several minutes to hours
- Persistent or worsening headache
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilation of one or both eye pupils
- Difficult waking up
- Loss of coordination
- Slurred speech
- Unusual behavior
Keep in mind that not all hard hits result in a traumatic brain injury. Still, it’s good medicine to play it safe and call the doctor if you, your child or a loved one knocks their noggin.