This month is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and the Brain Injury Association of America hopes to spread awareness of brain injuries, their causes, and prevention. Despite the fact that 1.7 million cases of brain injury occur in the United States each year, not much is known about the condition.
In fact, “brain injury” is actually an umbrella term, that encompasses a number of different types of injury. Brain injuries are classified as traumatic or non-traumatic, according to the cause of the problem.
Causes of traumatic brain injuries often include:
- Car accidents
- Workplace injuries
- Sports and recreation injuries
Causes of non-traumatic brain injuries may include:
- Infectious diseases like meningitis or encephalitis
- Metabolic disorders
- Neurotoxic poisoning (such as carbon monoxide poisoning or lead exposure)
- Drug overdose
- Oxygen deprivation (from drowning, choking, and other injuries)
If you or a loved one has suffered a fall, accident, stroke, or some other event that can lead to brain injury, please be on guard for the following symptoms:
- Difficulty speaking
- Vision problems
- Difficulty with coordination
- Personality changes
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Difficulty with reasoning and logic
- Memory problems
Sometimes, a brain injury is not preventable. Accidents happen, as do various diseases and infections that are not always predictable. However, you can lower your risk of a brain injury by taking special care with regard to accident risk. Wear your seatbelt in the car, remove tripping hazards in your home (especially at the tops of stairs), and use caution while playing sports or during recreational activities.
With regard to health risks, one of the primary sources of brain injury in older adults is a stroke. Attend regular check-ups with your doctor, take the appropriate steps to lower blood pressure, and address other stroke risk factors as directed by your physician.