Doctors would agree that the brain is a complicated and complex network of cells. Your brain’s configuration is never the same as another person. Therefore, brain injuries differ from person to person as well. Our skulls are approximately one quarter inch thick, although male skulls are a little thicker than female skulls, which is interesting considering that men get traumatic brain injury (TBI) more than women do. The skull protects and restricts the brain simultaneously. Surrounding the brain is a clear layer of tissue called the dura mater. It stops the brain from moving around too much. Beneath that layer is the arachnoid layer and below that, the pia mater. Altogether, they are called the meninges, and they keep the brain floating inside the skull. In an injury where the layers become ripped, torn or infected, the brain is severely impacted.
There are two basic types of brain injuries, open head TBIs and closed head TBIs. If you are hit by a baseball bat, shot by a bullet, involved in a high-speed collision or have fallen on a construction site or in a store, you will have an open head injury that will look very frightening. The scalp bleeds a lot when cut, and pieces of it can become lodged in the brain. Because the brain is a tangle of tissues and other material, removing these pieces can be dangerous. A closed head injury may not look as frightening from the outside but can be just as complicated and serious as an open head injury. In a collision, the brain slams against the walls of the skull and the impact can cause a “coup-contrecoup” injury where two injuries are caused by the same blow. An external force can also cause a concussion, and if a person’s head whips around violently, a small tearing occurs called a shearing and this results in a diffuse axonal injury. This is damage to the nerve cells that transmit messages. Injured brains also tend to swell and without a surgeon alleviating the pressure, the optic nerve responsible for eyesight will be impacted.
Car accidents are a frequent cause of TBIs. These injuries can range from mild to severe and their consequences can be catastrophic. Hitting your head on the steering wheel, seat, windshield or window in a high-speed crash will cause injuries ranging from mild concussions to coma. Unfortunately, these injuries can have permanent effects such as long lasting cognitive damage. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) stated that falling is the most common cause of TBIs. Slip and fall accidents can happen to anyone at any time and if you sustain a TBI, the injuries can change your life, and the life of your loved ones, for as long as you’re alive. Depending on the area of the brain, TBIs can impact your sight, hearing, sense of smell, taste, speaking, long-term memory and short-term memory, coordination, motor control, neurological system, facial recognition ability, problem-solving ability and concentration. And this in turn has emotional and psychosocial implications for everyone involved. Even a mild TBI can result in daily headaches, agitated moods and sleeplessness. After suffering a TBI, the ability to hold down a job and support yourself and your family may not be feasible, placing further stress on the family.