Nearly 414,000 American service members have a TBI. Most develop the condition during combat or training exercises.
The physical and psychological effects of a TBI can leave a lasting mark on a Veteran’s life. They can also affect the lives of their friends and family.
Knowing the effects of this dangerous condition allows you or your loved ones to consult a professional as soon as possible. Now is the best time thanks to new, revolutionary treatment methods.
Read our guide to learn what a TBI is, the symptoms it causes, and where to get help.
What Is a TBI?
An ABI or acquired brain injury occurs after birth. It changes the brain’s neuronal activity, affecting the patient’s physical and mental ability.
ABI is an umbrella term that encompasses all forms of brain injury. They can be further broken down into NBTI and TBI.
An NTBI or non-traumatic brain injury is caused by internal factors such as tumors, a lack of oxygen, or toxin exposure. Examples include:
- Infectious diseases like meningitis that affect the brain
- Conditions causing a lack of oxygen supply to the brain like heart attacks
A TBI or traumatic brain injury occurs when an external force alters brain function or pathology. They can be penetrating or non-penetrating. Examples include:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Sports injuries
A TBI is one of the most severe forms of brain injury because it damages the brain itself. It’s critical that you find the cause, get a proper diagnosis, and begin treatment as soon as possible.
Types of TBI
Doctors use 3 different classifications to determine TBI severity; mild, moderate, and severe.
A mild TBI, also known as a concussion, is the most common type. It involves confusion or a loss of consciousness for seconds or minutes.
Outcomes from a brain injury are classified on the GOS Glasgow Outcome Scale. A mild TBI sits anywhere between 13-15.
A mild TBI can be more difficult to identify than other types for several reasons. It doesn’t cause an observable head injury. Medical tests may fail to show the injury. The symptoms resemble other disorders like PTSD.
Despite its name, a mild TBI shouldn’t be ignored. Studies show that multiple cases increase the risk for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s.
Causes of TBI Hospitalization and Death
Direct and indirect management of TBI cases costs $76.5 billion every year. This is in part because it causes 288,000 hospitalizations, which is 20 times higher than the number for spinal cord injuries.
Falls account for 48% of TBI-related emergency department visits. They also caused 52% of TBI-related hospitalizations. This is a common cause for children and older adults.
Motor vehicle crashes cause 20% of TBI-related hospitalizations. Being struck by or hitting an object is the second most common cause, accounting for approximately 17% of TBI emergency department visits.
TBI comes with a mortality rate of 30 per 1000,000. It causes approximately 50,000 deaths per year in the US alone.
Falls were the leading cause of death in patients 65 or older. Self-harm is the leading cause for patients 45-64. Motor vehicle crashes were the leader for patients 15-34.
Effects of a TBI
Each year, 80,000-90,000 people experience the onset of long-term or lifelong disabilities associated with TBI. It’s a potentially long-lasting condition with several different symptoms.
The effects of a TBI differ based on several factors including age, the severity of the damage, and whether or not you’ve had a previous brain injury.
Not everyone will have the same experience, but there are signs to look out for. They may immediately follow the event that caused the damage or occur later.
Neurological and cognitive effects of a TBI include:
- Thinking or memory impairment
- Loss of senses
- Personality changes
- Changes in speech
- Slower thinking
- Difficulty concentration
Physical effects of a TBI include:
- Impaired movement
- Muscle weakness
- Dilated pupils
- Vision changes like blurred vision, seeing double, and light sensitivity
- Cerebrospinal fluid leaking from the ears or nose
- Dizziness and a loss of balance
- Breathing issues
- Slow pulse or breathing rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Difficulty swallowing
- Numbness and tingling
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
The side effects of a TBI may not be noticeable at first glance, and some Veterans suffer in silence with the condition. If you notice any of these physical or neurological changes, it’s time to get professional help.
Benefits of iRest Treatment
Common treatment methods like talk therapy and medication don’t always work for a TBI. It’s as much of a mental condition as it is a physical one, and both types of symptoms must be addressed.
One of the best new treatment methods is the use of iRest for TBI. It’s a trauma-informed method of Yoga Nidra meditation. It was created by psychologist Dr. Richard Miller.
The practice also helps treat several other trauma-related conditions that Veterans may experience, including:
- Chronic pain or illness
- Excessive stress
The iRest method treats a TBI by tapping into human layers of awareness. It puts the body at ease so the mind can more effectively process information.
The iRest method causes cortisol levels in the body to decrease. This lets the prefrontal cortex of the brain function at a higher level.
This treatment also fights against memory loss and limits trauma responses. It improves neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to create new experiences in the face of potentially traumatic stimuli.
Getting the most out of iRest requires practice, but several practitioners report results after the first session. There is no “right way” to complete a session, and you can even get the benefits if you fall asleep.
Where to Get Help for a TBI
Veterans make up a high number of TBI or traumatic brain injury cases. They put themselves at risk every time they engage in combat or training exercises.
Common side effects of a TBI include mental impairments such as problems with speech or the 5 senses. It also involves physical problems such as impaired muscle movement or balance.
Veterans and their families may experience the effects of a TBI for days, months, or even years. As soon as you see the signs, reach out for innovative treatment methods, such as iRest.
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