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Brain Injury Awareness: What is a Brain Injury

In 2010, about 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits, hospitalizations, or deaths were associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI)—either alone or in combination with other injuries—in the United States. Falls are the most common cause of TBI followed by motor vehicle accidents and blunt trauma. Falls are the most common reason for TBI in those under 14 and over age 65, while motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause for individuals age 14-25.

A TBI is a disruption of normal brain tissue caused by an external blow, impact, or jolt to the head which results in one or more of the following: an alteration or loss of consciousness, amnesia surrounding the event, neurological deficits, and/or altered mental status.  About eighty percent of brain injuries are considered mild and are also known as concussions. More severe TBIs are associated with prolonged loss of consciousness and more severe neurological problems.  Types of more severe brain trauma include:

  • Subdural hemorrhage – a collection of blood between the covering of the brain (dura) and the surface of the brain.
  • Contusion – a bruise of the brain tissue itself
  • Shearing – brain tissue is torn by movement of the brain within the skull

TBIs can vary in severity from person to person, and symptoms may not appear immediately, but any form of brain injury can have a long-lasting effect on your life.

Symptoms of a mild brain injury might include a headache, dizziness, problems with concentration, and changes in behavior or sleep. If you are concerned that you may have experienced a brain injury, it’s important to follow up with your physician.

Cone Health Inpatient Rehabilitation Center has a CARF accredited brain injury program. Our exceptional team is comprised of physiatrists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, recreational therapists, speech pathologists, social workers, case managers, rehabilitation nurses, and neuropsychiatrists dedicated to returning patients to the community.  As part of an interdisciplinary approach to care, the rehab team focuses on helping patients improve mobility, cognition, and all aspects of daily living including things such as dressing and bathing. After discharge, patients transition to an outpatient therapy program with care supervised by a physiatrist.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Zachary Swartz is a physiatrist at Cone Health Inpatient Rehabilitation Department and Center for Pain Management and Rehabilitation.  Dr. Swartz is a 1996 graduate of Medical College of Virginia, where he also completed his residency.