March is brain injury awareness month. According to the Brain Injury Association of America, more than 3.5 million children and adults sustain an acquired brain injury (ABI) each year.

What is an ABI? An ABI is any injury to the brain that is not hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or induced by birth trauma. Some potential causes of ABI may include: infectious disease, electric shock, oxygen deprivation, substance abuse, trauma, or stroke.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a specific type of acquired brain injury. TBI is caused by trauma to the brain from an external force. Examples of TBI may include: falls, assaults or motor vehicle crashes. Every day, 137 people in the U.S. die because of a TBI-related injury and at least 5.3 million Americans live with TBI-related disabilities. At least 2.5 million children and adults sustain TBIs in the U.S. each year and many are unaware and do not seek treatment.

One of the most common types of TBI is a concussion. A concussion is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This fast movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull. This can create a chemical change in the brain and sometimes stretch and damage brain cells. There are steps individuals can take to prevent concussions.

• Buckle children in the car using a child safety seat

• Wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle

• Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs

• Wear a helmet when participating in certain activities such as, riding a bike, playing a contact sport, or riding a horse

• Make living areas safer for seniors and children

If you think someone has experienced a concussion, call their doctor, EMS or get them to a hospital right away. Symptoms of TBI might not be present right away and may take days to appear. Some general signs to watch for include: dizziness, headaches, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, appearing dazed, ringing in the ears, delayed response to questions and the person may or may not lose consciousness.

Brittney Tschudy, BSH, RN, TTS Hocking County Health Department, writes a weekly column published in The Logan Daily News.

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