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10 (Not-So-Obvious) Truths About Brain Injuries


Though simple sounding, the umbrella term “brain injury” includes several diagnoses that range from mild to severe in their impact on the brain and the symptoms they produce in the person experiencing one. More than one million people in the United States sustain a brain injury each year, and millions more live with lasting and frequently debilitating effects from these injuries. While concussion is often the hottest and most widely discussed brain injury type in public forums – there is far more that everyone should know about brain injuries and some of it might surprise you.

  1. Even though they are a significant cause of disability and death in America, brain injuries are often referred to as a “silent epidemic.” The silent epidemic moniker is the result of a wide range of symptoms that can be caused by brain injuries and the fact that many of these injuries can go undiagnosed or underdiagnosed, especially among underserved populations.
  2. The misconception remains that people don’t believe a head injury is “serious” if it doesn’t lead to unconsciousness. Many concussions, also known as mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI), are sustained by people who remain conscious after the injury occurs. A concussion should be taken seriously by everyone whether a loss of consciousness has occurred or not.
  3. Especially among older adults and young children, falls are the prevailing cause of brain injuries. People over 75 are hospitalized and die more often than younger people because of traumatic brain injury. The CDC also reports that adult males are almost twice as likely to be hospitalized and three times more likely to die from traumatic injury than females.
  4. Headache and dizziness aren’t the only signs of a brain injury. Personality changes, such as mood instability and increased irritability, can often occur after a brain injury. In addition, a phenomenon known as “brain fog” can manifest after someone sustains a brain injury. Brain fog negatively impacts memory, concentration, and mental processing speed.
  5. The brain can help itself heal after injury through something called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity involves the brain’s incredible ability to reorganize itself and form new synaptic connections after a portion of it has been damaged. Brain rehabilitation therapy and training are crucial elements of recovery after brain injury and can help encourage the positive effects of neuroplasticity.
  6. Sleep is vital to overall brain health and recovery after an injury. Getting adequate sleep can improve cognitive function, memory, and emotional regulation, all of which are impacted by brain injuries.
  7. Brain injuries can have a significant emotional impact on not only the individual but also their families and caregivers. It is crucial for loved ones of people with brain injuries to recognize the emotional toll and to seek support for everyone involved in the recovery process, not only the injured person.
  8. Several prominent figures have lived with and openly discussed their brain injury experiences, including actors, athletes, and elected officials. People with brain injuries who are in the national spotlight can help raise awareness and break down the stigmas associated with brain injuries for everyone.
  9. Neurologists, neuroscientists, and neurological researchers are exploring the potential of screening exams, tests, and other predictive models, including AI, to identify brain injuries, especially in sports-related concussions. There is much on the forefront of brain research that people with brain injuries and those who want to prevent them can be encouraged by.
  10. There are a variety of ways that people with brain injuries can seek effective rehabilitative therapy. Art therapy, music therapy, and other creative methods are increasingly used in brain injury rehabilitation, as they offer unique avenues for self-expression, emotional release, and cognitive stimulation.

If you or someone you care about has sustained a brain injury, there are more resources available today than ever before. As always, healing is aided by honest dialogue between people with brain injuries and their trusted healthcare providers. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to encourage brain healing and try to be open to the possibilities. The brain is a marvelous organ, and its healing can happen in unusual and remarkable ways.