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The Basics Of Brain Injury

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 1.4 million Americans suffer a brain injury each year. Brain injuries can be caused by anything from a car accident to a fall in the shower. Sadly, brain injuries aren’t always as obvious as we’d like them to be. Even doctors and other medical professionals can sometimes misdiagnose the condition or miss it all together.

Types Of Brain Injury

A brain injury is a type of injury involving a physical trauma to the head and brain that causes harm to its normal functions. A brain injury can range from mild to severe and its symptoms can be hard to notice. That aside, brain injuries also comes with its own different types as well including:

  • Concussions are the most common type of brain injury and are caused by violent shaking of the brain due to a blow or jolt to the head. These can be especially common in contact sports such as football. Though most concussions are mild in nature, frequent concussions can really take a toll on the brain and cause permanent damage.

  • ‘Closed’ head injuries are not as obvious as some other brain injuries since there is little to no outside damage to the head. However, these can still be severe if left untreated.

  • Acquired brain injury is a type of brain injury that is not caused by external physical trauma, but rather is from an internal cause that results from the brain being deprived of oxygen. Some common causes include exposure to toxic substances, such as lead, near-drowning accidents, and trouble with medication.


Since brain injuries can vary in type and severity, their symptoms can vary quite a bit as well. Here are just a few common symptoms to look out for:

  • Dizziness

  • Frequent headaches

  • Memory loss

  • Unable to focus or concentrate

  • Confusion

  • Balancing issues

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

  • Changes in behavior or mood

  • Seizures

In children, symptoms tend to look a little different and are often harder to detect than those in adults. That’s why you need to pay extra attention to your child after a blow to the head to know whether a brain injury has occurred. Some of the most common symptoms to look for are changes in mood (irritability, listless), behavior (loss of interest in favorite things, changes in eating or sleeping habits), unsteady walking, and vomiting. Even if you haven’t spotted these symptoms, if your child has gotten a pretty good hit to the head, it certainly isn’t a bad idea to head to the doctor’s just in case.

It is also important to note that symptoms of a brain injury may not occur immediately after the injury has taken place. It is not uncommon for symptoms to wait a day or two to begin appearing so you shouldn’t assume you are in the clear until a few days or so.

Seeking Medical Attention

Brain and head injuries are not something you should ever be taking lightly. That’s why the best thing to do is to see a doctor if you suspect you may have a brain injury.

What if it’s a ‘minor’ brain injury?

You won’t know if it is minor until you have seen a doctor or have waited it out a few days at least. As mentioned before, symptoms won’t always appear immediately after impact and some brain injuries leave no external damage behind even when the internal damages are severe. If it doesn’t seem possible to see a doctor immediately, you should at least have a friend or family member watching over you for a few days.

During those days, you should avoid driving, handling machinery, or continuing to participate in contact sports until you are either sure you do not have a brain injury or have been given permission by your doctor. Instead, try to rest or focus on low-risk activities for the time being.