Submitted by Valeria Lopez, Community Health Educator
The brain is one of the most vital organs in the human body. It’s responsible for all important bodily functions – from something subconscious like breathing to complex thoughts and emotions. Taking care of your brain is extremely important to be able to stay healthy and retain the abilities that we acquire throughout our lifetime.
The brain is made up of two hemispheres and four lobes: frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital. Each of these lobes of the brain is responsible for specific skills such as speech, language interpretation, memory, personality, temperature, pain, among many others. When a person suffers from a brain injury, one or more skills may be involved, depending on the area affected. An injury to the brain can lead to permanent disability or even death.
How do Traumatic Brain Injuries occur?
There are different ways in which a brain injury can be caused. It can be from a fall, a car accident, sports, abusive assaults such as kicks or blows to the head, a stroke, meningitis, seizures, or lack of oxygen. There are some injuries that could be affected temporarily, with a possible recovery, and others in which the consequences are severe and permanent.
When an injury takes place, the person may either lose consciousness at the time the injury occurs or despite the blow being strong, the person may not show any symptoms until days or weeks later. That's why it's important to have a checkup after a head injury or blow to the head. Some symptoms that could occur and indicate that there is an existing injury may be headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, speech problems, or loss of balance. Other symptoms could be sensory problems, sensitivity to light, loss of awareness of anything, memory or concentration problems, changes in mood, or changes in sleep routine.
According to the Brain Injury Alliance, 2.8 million Americans sustain traumatic brain injuries every year, and more than 56,000 people die every year because of traumatic brain injuries. It disables six times more people each year than spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and breast cancer combined. In addition, 5.3 million Americans who have had a traumatic brain injury need help with everyday tasks for the rest of their lives.
It is important to create awareness regarding brain injury and understand the process as a chronic disease, and it is also important to start promoting the need for quick action and treatment.