If humans were a computer in the process of being built, the brain would be the area you invested the most money and energy into. As it is, our bodies and brains are far more powerful than any PC and are responsible for the day-to-day function of our bodies.
When things go wrong with the brain, the results can be catastrophic. What may seem to be a small, insignificant hit on the head has the potential to cause serious long-term damage, and this can change the life of the victim forever. From affecting the short-term memory to creating significant long-term risks and an increase of issues, a traumatic brain injury is an event the victim will be forced to live with for the rest of their lives.
Understand the Types of Damage
Damage or injury to the brain can have lifelong side effects, and those effects can range from simple all that way to very severe.
- Sensory Damage- Depending on the area of the brain which is impacted, long-term or permanent sensory damage could be a lasting consequence. Each area of the brain is responsible for a different function or activity, including the ability to see, smell, taste, touch, and hear. If the injury or damage is in one of these areas, this sense could be impacted or lost. In some cases, the damage crosses multiple sites, leading to multi-sensory loss for some victims.
- Issues with Communication- In addition to impacted senses, certain areas of the brain are also responsible for carrying out our essential communication functions, including the ability to talk and understand speech, reading, writing, understanding non-verbal cues and communication, and registering and understanding conversations. If the area of the brain controlling these functions is compromised, the victim may lose the ability to communicate on a fundamental level. Communication issues can also extend to severe mood swings, as the brain is primarily responsible for emotional control, moods, and inhibitions. Sudden emotional outbursts may be a consequence, and these can exist alongside mood swings and anger, as well as an inability to comprehend social interaction, nuances, or the unique quirks which make up ‘civilized conversation.’ The victim may ask inappropriate questions or make poorly judged comments, making it harder to socialize and maintain an independent life.
- Cognitive Issues- As well as damaging communication, injuries to the brain also affect cognitive function and abilities. Once again, the consequences depend primarily on the area of the brain which is impacted but may include problems with both short and long-term memory, judgment, analysis, and reasoning. The individual may find that they are no longer able to problem solve, organize things, or set out a plan. Their ability to learn new concepts and retain information can also be severely impacted.
- Mobility and Movement Issues- The brain controls every step, movement, decision, and action we make, and so an injury can damage these crucial connections. Depending on the position, nature, and severity of the injury, the victim may struggle to walk or move, leaving them essentially paralyzed. In addition, fine motor skills can be compromised, and this includes gripping and holding items, throwing and catching, drawing, writing or holding a pen, eating or drinking independently, or being able to change clothes or wash.
- Long-Term Damage and Risks- As well as the immediate side-effects, a brain injury can have serious consequences further down the line. If, during the injury, the blood vessels on the interior of the skill and the surface of the brain are damaged, these may begin to bleed. Over time, this increases the risk of hemorrhaging, clots, aneurysms, and strokes. The victim is also at a higher chance of developing a degenerative brain disease in the future as a result of the damage, with many individuals going on to develop conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, or mild or severe epilepsy, even when this was not previously present.
- Coma- In some cases, the brain will simply shut itself down in an effort to prevent any further damage or trauma. When this occurs, the victim will enter a state of altered consciousness, which comes with risks of long-term damage, a persistent vegetative state, or even death.
What Are Common Causes of Injuries to The Brain?
Any knock or blow to the head has the potential to cause long-term damage; despite its importance, the brain is very delicate, and a small issue can have long-term consequences. Some of the most common causes usually include:
- Being involved in a car accident – can result in serious head injuries as a result of the impact, and these may, in turn, cause damage to the brain.
- Being the victim of an attack – if an individual is attacked or assaulted, they may experience trauma to the brain due to being struck with a heavy object, or falling and landing on their head.
- Playing or practicing certain sports or activities – some sports or recreational activities come with a particularly high risk of head injuries. Football is a particular risk; players are moving at high speeds, and high-impact collisions are common. Baseball or other sports involving balls and bats are also high risks, as are popular leisure activities such as skiing, snowboarding, or horse riding. All of these have the potential for the participant to sustain head injuries, which can, in turn, damage the brain.
- Slips and falls – falls are a common cause of head injuries, but too many people fail to recognize the severity. A seemingly innocuous trip could cause you to fall and hit your head on the ground, or perhaps you slip and bang your head on the edge of a desk. On the surface, you may feel fine – if a little dazed. However, it is crucial that you get any injury checked out, as slips and falls from the second most common reason for brain injuries across the United States, second only to auto accidents.