A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. This can be caused through a direct impact, jolt, or penetrating injury to the head. The majority of TBIs are mild, commonly called concussions. A TBI may affect an individual’s quality of life in many ways. These may include impaired cognitive, behavioral/emotional, and physical functioning. Most TBIs are caused by motor vehicle crashes, falls, and strikes or blows to the head from or against an object (for example sports-related concussions).
Everyone is at risk for traumatic brain injury, especially youth and young adults and older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBI is a serious public health problem in the United States. Each year, traumatic brain injuries contribute to a large number of deaths and cases of permanent disability.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a brain disease that results from changes in the brain. These changes can affect how a person thinks, feels, acts, and moves. TBI, including concussions, and repeated hits to the head, called subconcussive head impacts, may lead to CTE.
The following strategies reduce the risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury:
- Wear a seat belt while driving or riding in a motor vehicle.
- Use child safety seats.
- Avoid driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Avoid driving drowsy.
- Wear helmets during sports and recreational activities.
- Reduce fall risks in and around home, school, and work.