Education & Research

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), also called acquired brain injury or simply head injury occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain. A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, fatigue or lethargy, a change in sleep patterns, behavioral or mood changes, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking. A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms, but may also have a headache that gets worse or does not go away, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, an inability to awaken from sleep, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

brain injury

Brain Injury Statistics

The leading causes of TBI…

Falls
28
%
Motor Vehicle Accidents
20
%
Blow
19
%
Assaults
11
%

Of the 1.7 million who sustain a TBI each year in the US…

Treated and Release from ER
1400000
Hospitalized
275000
Die
52000

Those at highest risk for TBI…

Gender

Males are about 1.5 times as likely as females to sustain a TBI

Age

TBI are most common in those aged 75+

Occupation

Certain military duties increase the risk of sustaining a TBI

Race

African Americans have the highest death rate from TBI

Brain Injury Prognosis

Approximately half of severely head-injured patients will need surgery to remove or repair hematomas (ruptured blood vessels) or contusions (bruised brain tissue). Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the individual. Some common disabilities include problems with cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning), sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication (expression and understanding), and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness). More serious head injuries may result in stupor, an unresponsive state, but one in which an individual can be aroused briefly by a strong stimulus, such as sharp pain; coma, a state in which an individual is totally unconscious, unresponsive, unaware, and unarousable; vegetative state, in which an individual is unconscious and unaware of his or her surroundings, but continues to have a sleep-wake cycle and periods of alertness; and a persistent vegetative state (PVS), in which an individual stays in a vegetative state for more than a month.

Source: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)

Research

Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) is conducting a study to examine the therapeutic effectiveness of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) to restore function after severe TBI.  For more information, please click on the links below:

SCVMC rTMS to Restore Function after Severe TBI

Rehabilitation Research Center at SCVMC

Christina Weyer Jamora, Ph.D. is conducting a study in conjunction with Marin Brain Injury Network for persons with mild TBI.  For more information, please click on the link below:

Computerized Brain Exercises Study

Children with recent traumatic brain injuries are wanted for brain imaging research.  UCLA Division of Child Psychiatry is conducting a study that examines the brain processes associated with recovery of cognitive functions, such as attention, learning, memory, and problem solving following a TBI in children and adolescents.  For more information and eligibility requirements, please click on the links below:

UCLA TBI Flyer

UCLA TBI Brochure

Cognitive Recovery From Traumatic Brain Injury Research Study

Click Here for more information on the research study at the Los Angeles Biomedical Reearch Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

VA Palo Alto Health Care System Research Study

Treatment for Social Competence in Military Veterans, Service Members, and Civilians with TBI

TBI & Social Competency Research Study

University of Washington Clinical Study.  Please click on the following link for more information:

Life Improvement Following Traumatic Brain Injury (LIFT)