Brain injury awareness month

A100319_MAMC_TBI 1

Brain injury is regularly in the news, with the focus on concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in sports, or for soldiers returning with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and more from roadside bombs, etc. What is overlooked and that people may not be aware of is that older adults can have a brain injury as well from a fall, in fact “adults aged 75 years and older have the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalization and death.” (www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/statistics.html) March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, so I wanted to write a brief post to help increase awareness.

One in three adults over the age of 65 fall each year. If you associate falls with fractures, you would be correct – fractures are the most common injury from a fall. But most TBI’s are caused by falls and these are a definite concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a pretty good handout about TBI’s.

Symptoms of mild TBI include:
• Low-grade headache that won’t go away
• Having more trouble than usual remembering things, paying attention or concentrating, organizing daily tasks, or making decisions and solving problems
• Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading
• Getting lost or easily confused
• Feeling tired all of the time, lack of energy or motivation
• Change in sleep pattern—sleeping much longer than before, having trouble sleeping
• Loss of balance, feeling light-headed or dizzy
• Increased sensitivity to sounds, lights, distractions
• Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
• Loss of sense of taste or smell
• Ringing in the ears
• Change in sexual drive
• Mood changes like feeling sad, anxious, or listless, or becoming easily irritated or angry for little or no reason

Symptoms of a moderate to severe TBI include:
• A headache that gets worse or does not go away
• Repeated vomiting or nausea
• Convulsions or seizures
• Inability to wake up from sleep
• Dilation of one or both pupils
• Slurred speech
• Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
• Loss of coordination
• Increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation

Photo credit: A100319_MAMC_TBI 1, originally uploaded by Joint Base Lewis McChord

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