Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which researched all TBI accident-related injuries in 2012 and 2013, including vehicle-related. TBIs account for about 30 percent of all injury deaths. Trauma to the brain often happens during an automobile accident when the skull strikes (or is stricken by) an object like a steering wheel, windshield, or other debris during the vehicle wreck. Among all age groups, according to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes were the third overall leading cause of TBI-related emergency room treatment, hospitalizations, and deaths (14 percent). When looking at just TBI-related deaths, motor vehicle crashes were the third leading cause (19 percent) in 2013. And regarding all TBI-related fatalities in 2013, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for victims between the ages of five and 24. They also produce the largest percentage of TBI-related deaths (31.8 percent). Another study published in 2006 by the Atlanta National Center for Injury Prevention and Control revealed that about 280,000 people in the U.S. suffer a motor vehicle-induced traumatic brain injury every year. Twenty percent of all brain damage is motor vehicle accident-related and constitutes the second largest overall cause of TBI. One lingering effect of TBI, including for victims injured in a vehicle accident, was found by researchers in Denmark: of the nearly 7.5 million people who make up the population of that country, more than 34,000 deaths between 1980 and 2014 were by suicide. Most noteworthy was the revelation that around 10 percent of those who took their own lives had also suffered a medically documented traumatic brain injury. The analysis was conducted by using the Danish Cause of Death registry. A recent report published by the Neurological Research Institute at Brookhaven Hospital Tulsa, Oklahoma reveals that major depressive disorder (MDD) may be a common and challenging mental health condition suffered by TBI patients. The report showed that suicidal thoughts and attempts are also common reactions to TBI, with 23 percent of survey participants admitting they had contemplated taking their own lives, while 17 percent actually did commit suicide. TBI symptoms can manifest in a variety of different ways.
- Loss of consciousness – Symptoms can range from a slight daze lasting for a few minutes, to loss of consciousness for several hours, to a coma for several days. The longer the period of unconsciousness, the more severe the brain damage will be.
- Concussions – Altered awareness is the prominent symptom. Others include dizziness, nausea, disorientation, and forgetfulness. Most victims recover within a couple of months.
- Post traumatic amnesia – This involves loss of memory of events before (retrograde amnesia) and after (anterograde amnesia) the injury. Like loss of consciousness, the longer the amnesia period, the greater the subsequent brain damage the patient is likely to suffer.