Brain injuries can occur in anyone at any age. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are very common, especially in the elderly. A simple fall in your elderly loved one’s home can result in a TBI. Brain injuries can also occur from car accidents or from a blow to the head. Your brain is a delicate organ that is protected only by the thin lattice of bone in your skull. A simple hit to the head can cause your brain to float around inside of your skull and hit the bone. If your brain hits your skull hard enough, then a TBI can occur. Unfortunately, elderly loved ones at risk for falling due to other medical conditions are at an extremely high risk of developing a TBI. If your loved one is at risk, or has had a TBI, then keep reading to find out the 6 most common misconceptions about Brain Injuries.
Mild TBIs Go Away Quickly
Up until recent years, scientists around the world believed that mild brain injuries healed easily and quickly and left no lasting effects. It was a common belief that only severe brain injuries led to impairment in the patient. However, unfortunately this just is not true. New studies have shown that even very mild brain injuries can result in many lasting symptoms. Although most people with mild brain injuries do recover all of their cognitive abilities within three months of their injury, they may have issues with memory, attention deficit, and executive functions for up to a year after their injury. This is most concerning in the elderly population. Elderly patients who have issues with memory, attention and executive functions may be at a higher risk for falls. If they fall, then they can re-injure their brain or aggravate their healing brain injury.
TBIs Always Have the Same Symptoms
Our brain is a complex organ that scientists still do not fully understand. For this reason, no two traumatic brain injuries are alike. Brain injuries do not come with a set of standard symptoms that every patient experiences. Symptoms will be completely dependent on the area of the brain affected, the patient’s overall health, the age of the patient and their sex. All of these factors will determine what symptoms a person may feel. For this reason, it is essential to go to a doctor whenever a brain injury may have occurred. Many people forgo taking a trip to the ER after a hard fall because they are presenting with few symptoms. However, they could be experiencing a severe brain injury that could get worse if left untreated. Always have a doctor check out your elderly loved one after a fall or an accident. It could mean the difference between a mild TBI to a severe TBI.
TBI Symptoms Appear Immediately After the Injury
Immediately after a head injury, most patients complain about a little bit of head or neck pain. Often though, their pain is not too severe and can easily be brushed off. These two symptoms can be the first signs of a TBI. Cognitive and neurological problems may not come until much later. Generally, cognitive and neurological symptoms take a few hours to appear. However, some of these symptoms may not be apparent until a patient is placed in a certain environment or told to complete certain tasks. For this reason, it is very important to never take a brain injury lightly. To be on the safe side, call the doctor after a head injury occurs.
Direct Head Impact is Necessary for a TBI
Many people have the misconception that unless there is a direct blow to the head that a TBI cannot occur. This is completely false. One common way that TBIs occur is through car accidents. In car accidents, the rapid deceleration of the car causes the people in the car to jolt forward. During that extreme jolt whiplash can occur and the brain can move around in your skull. If the brain hits the skull with enough force than a brain injury can occur. Rapid deceleration and acceleration can both cause whiplash and brain injuries without any type of blow to the head.
Brain Injury Can Always be Detected with Radiological Imaging Scans
In many instances, modern technology cannot detect brain injuries, especially if they are mild. Patients who have had many documented cognitive and neurological symptoms may have clear radiological scans. For this reason, many neurologists do not need visual proof to diagnose a patient with a TBI. Symptoms and cognitive functions are more important than radiological scans in many brain injuries.
Mild TBIs are Not a Big Deal
One of the biggest misconceptions about brain injuries is that mild TBIs are no big deal. This statement is completely false. Mild TBIs can greatly disrupt a person’s life. Someone who has had a mild TBI is at a greater risk of developing mental illness, has a harder time finding employment, have a greater risk of substance abuse, and often have issues keeping relationships with their family members, friends and significant others. Mild TBIs can cause many cognitive symptoms that the patient cannot control. These symptoms can last for at least a year, and may last longer. The symptoms can greatly affect a person’s daily life and be very serious.
Traumatic brain injuries should not be taken lightly. They are serious medical conditions that should be checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Doctors can diagnose and treat mild to severe brain injuries and help make the patient’s daily life better. They can also inform the patient and the family about the lasting effects of brain injuries to help both parties as the patient recovers. If your elderly loved one has suffered from a brain injury, try to be patient with them. They may have a loss of cognitive abilities for a while and may grow frustrated. Stay patient and help them find new ways to do tasks that may be difficult for them.
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