SAN ANTONIO — We've heard the phrase traumatic brain injury a lot lately. But what does it actually mean? As many as 3.8 million concussions occur each year, and almost half them go undetected and untreated.
"A traumatic brain injury is an injury to the brain and head that is caused by a trauma, and that trauma can be both to the body or to the head itself," said Dr. Caitlyn Mooney, a Sports Medicine Specialist at UT Health San Antonio.
Dr. Mooney says the injuries can range from mild to severe. She told us, "Mild, where the person tends to not actually go to the hospital, to severe, where they might be unconscious and being transported by ambulance to the trauma unit."
The most common forms of traumatic brain injuries happen in motor vehicle accidents, recreational sports (especially in young adults) and in older adults who have a higher risk of falls.
Dr. Mooney added, "If you think about boxers where their heads go back and then come forward, they can get what we call 'counter cues' from the brain, kind of moving around in the skull. You can actually have a head injury."
Some of the symptoms to look for immediately after impact include a headache, nausea, vomiting, vision change, confusion or brain fog.
Dr. Mooney tells us it isn't just the moment of impact that determines the level of injury, but what happens within the head in the moments leading up to that impact.
She said, "It seems like the rotation of the head has more to do in the deceleration when you hit -- has more to do with it than the actual impact."
Dr. Mooney also told us you can sleep with a concussion. But if the person injured has one of those worrisome symptoms, you'd want them to be evaluated before they go to sleep in case they have something like a bleed.
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