In my experience brain injuries are the most undiagnosed injuries Americans suffer. Car wrecks, motorcycle wrecks, and bicycle wrecks account for at least half of all TBIs and the largest portion of TBI in people under age 75. For those people aged 75 and older falls cause the majority of TBIs.
Why are brain injuries so undiagnosed in emergency rooms? Emergency rooms are concerned with saving lives and treating obvious injuries. Brain injuries are not always apparent when a person has just been in a wreck. Physicians are focused on broken bones, and more obvious injuries. Unless emergency room physicians are looking for brain injury, the brain injury may slip through the cracks.
People should have a basic understanding of the most common symptoms. If there is a change in the way you think, I call it fuzzy thinking, or if you have trouble finding words when you talk, these are common symptoms of a traumatic brain injury. Other symptoms are dizziness, headaches, and changes in temperament.
Traumatic brain injury is a frequent cause of major long-term disability unless treated. Outcome for patients with head injury depends heavily on the cause. For example, in the US, patients with TBIs from falls have an 89% survival rate, while only 9% of patients with firearm-related TBIs survive.
Car manufacturers have helped reduce the number of brain injuries by making cars safer, but they still have a long way to go to become completely safe. Motorcycle helmets help, but if a rider lands on his head, the helmet may not prevent a brain injury even though it may have saved the rider’s life.
If you or a family member have been in a serious wreck, I suggest you be examined by a trained medical care provider to rule out brain injury, or to get treatment.