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What do we know about traumatic brain injuries?
The human brain is an incredible thing. We understand a lot about it but there is still a lot that we have yet to learn. Like any part of the human body it can be damaged and can also heal given time and care. Head injuries are one the strangest injuries that a person can suffer, effects can vary from slight to life changing. We wanted to look at what happens to the brain when it suffers from an injury.
What do we mean by traumatic brain injury? It has been defined as such:
“Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a nondegenerative, noncongenital insult to the brain from an external mechanical force, possibly leading to permanent or temporary impairment of cognitive, physical, and psychosocial functions, with an associated diminished or altered state of consciousness.”
Many TBI are caused by accident such as in sports like American Football, the constant clashes of heads leads to the brain becoming damaged over time. In some cases of TBI legal action has to be taken, this might be in the case of a car accident if someone is at fault.
The side effects of suffering a TBI vary greatly, some take the form of concussion which people can usually shake off in a few hours but may take up to a few weeks for more severe cases. The severity of cases can be measured within 48hrs using the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). The scale measures different response to build up a picture of how severe the trauma is, these include eye movement, motor skills and verbal response.
Through developments in medical science there are a lot more that doctors are able to do in diagnosis and treatment of TBIs, we have put together a storify looking at the latest news in treatments. However, the best course of action is prevention, accidents will happen but wearing the correct safety gear for example will help reduce the chances of serious injury.
There are new steps being made in the treatment of brain injuries every year but we are still a long way from being able to fully repair one of the most complex objects in the world.
“And it just really upsets me, and it's hard for me to sit here and talk to you... and in some way make you feel that your reporting brought us to this place... but it did.”—
Gen. Peter Chiarelli, US Army Vice Chief of Staff, on NPR describing how an investigative report prompted the Army to revise and clarify its regulations on awarding the Purple Heart to soldiers receiving traumatic brain injuries due to enemy action.
An unknown number of soldiers saw their awards and veteran’s benefits denied by commanders after suffering traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.