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How Brain Injuries Happen: Causes and Prevention Tips

Brain injuries can have a significant impact on an individual’s quality of life. They occur when there is damage to the brain caused by an external force, disrupting normal brain function. There are various types of brain injuries, with traumatic brain injury (TBI) being one of the most common. TBI can be caused by numerous factors, such as a violent blow or jolt to the head or body, or an object penetrating the brain tissue like a bullet or piece of skull. Whiplash injuries, as sustained in car accidents and sporting collisions, have been recognized as a major cause of concussive brain injuries. These injuries can range in severity from mild, which may temporarily affect brain cells, to severe, requiring extensive treatment and rehabilitation [1].

Understanding the causes of brain injuries is crucial in developing strategies for prevention. Common causes include falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports-related incidents, and physical assaults [2]. By raising awareness about these risks and implementing proper safety measures, we can play a role in reducing the incidence of brain injuries. Additionally, early detection and intervention can improve the prognosis of individuals suffering from TBI, allowing for a better chance of recovery.

At APEX Brain Centers, we focus primarily on functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, frequency-based therapies, electrotherapy, balance, and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and home care recommendations to help individuals manage their symptoms and return to a higher quality of life. Through a combination of these treatment methods, we aim to support individuals as they navigate the complex process of recovery from brain injuries.

Understanding Brain Injuries

Brain injuries are complex and can result from various causes. In order to prevent and properly manage brain injuries, it is crucial to understand their types, causes, and potential consequences on overall brain function.

Types of Brain Injuries

There are two main types of brain injuries: traumatic and non-traumatic. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) usually occur due to a violent blow or jolt to the head, or other external factors, causing temporary or permanent brain damage. Non-traumatic brain injuries, also known as acquired brain injuries, have non-traumatic causes such as stroke, which is caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain due to blood clots or hypertension.

Brain injuries can further be classified by their severity (mild, moderate, severe) and specific characteristics (diffuse, penetrating).

In addition to the obvious physical outcomes, brain injuries can contribute to various cognitive impairments, such as memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and emotional changes. Proper assessment and management are critical to ensure the best possible outcomes for individuals affected by brain injuries.

Preventing brain injuries requires a multi-faceted approach, including wearing appropriate protective gear during sports or activities that involve risks, ensuring a safe environment to minimize the chances of falls, and promoting overall brain health through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.

Brain injuries are complex and can have significant effects on an individual’s life. Understanding the types of brain injuries, their causes, and potential impacts on is crucial for prevention and proper management. At APEX Brain Centers, we strive to provide the highest quality care for all individuals affected by brain injuries.

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How Brain Injuries Happen

Accidental Causes

Accidents are common causes of brain injuries, which can result from various situations. One frequent circumstance is a blow to the head, which can occur during motor vehicle accidents or sports injuries. In fact, falls are a leading cause of brain injuries, especially among older adults and young children. It’s essential to take safety precautions when engaging in activities where accidents might occur, such as wearing protective gear during sports or ensuring that home environments are free from tripping and falling hazards.

Intentional Causes

Intentional acts of violence or assaults can also lead to brain injuries. These actions can range from gunshot wounds to instances of child abuse, such as shaken baby syndrome. To prevent brain injuries caused by intentional harm, increasing awareness and prevention strategies is crucial, as well as reporting suspected cases of abuse to the proper authorities.

Medical Causes

Lastly, some brain injuries arise from medical causes. In particular, a stroke can cause brain damage by disrupting blood flow to the brain, depriving it of oxygen and essential nutrients. To mitigate the risk of stroke, individuals should maintain a healthy lifestyle by adopting a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes that may increase stroke risk.

In our work at APEX Brain Centers, we recognize the impact of these various causes of brain injuries and strive to provide effective, personalized treatment options. By offering specialized therapies such as functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and more, we address each individual’s unique needs on their path to recovery.

Identifying Symptoms of Brain Injuries

Brain injuries can manifest in various ways, with symptoms often presenting themselves in physical, cognitive, and emotional forms. It’s important to be aware of the possible warning signs in order to address any issues and seek appropriate care as needed.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms related to brain injuries include:

  • Headache: Persistent and severe headaches can be a clear sign of a brain injury.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Feeling nauseous or even persistent vomiting are both early indicators of brain injuries.
  • Seizures: Sudden seizures can be a result of brain injury, as they are often triggered by abnormal brain activity.
  • Dizziness and loss of balance: Experiencing dizziness or trouble maintaining balance can indicate a problem with the injured portions of the brain responsible for balance.
  • Blurred vision: Visual disturbances such as blurred vision or sensitivity to light are common after a brain injury.
  • Slurred speech: Difficulty speaking or slurred speech can be indicative of damage to the brain.
  • Weakness or spasticity: Muscle weakness or tightness, particularly on one side of the body, may signal a brain injury.
  • Gut dysfunction: Gastrointestinal distress is common with concussion, and due to medication usage with more severe brain injuries.
  • Hormone dysregulation: Thyroid dysfunction, menstrual issues, and more are common with certain types of brain injury; especially concussion.
  • Loss of consciousness or coma: In severe cases, the injured individual may lose consciousness or enter a coma.

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms of brain injuries often involve issues with memory, problem-solving, attention, and processing. Some common cognitive symptoms include:

  • Confusion: Difficulty processing information, feeling disoriented, or experiencing a sense of mental fog.
  • Memory problems: Short-term memory issues, such as difficulty remembering recent events or conversations, are common cognitive symptoms. Long-term memory issues are more common with severe TBI.
  • Difficulty with concentration or focus: Struggling to concentrate or stay on task can be a sign of brain injury.
  • Trouble with problem-solving or planning: Struggling to solve problems or form plans is another cognitive symptom that may arise.

Emotional Symptoms

Aside from the physical and cognitive symptoms, brain injuries can also affect an individual’s emotional well-being. Some emotional symptoms to look out for include:

  • Depression: Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or lack of motivation might emerge after a brain injury.
  • Mood changes: Experiencing mood swings or sudden changes in emotion is another potential emotional symptom.
  • Irritability: Becoming easily frustrated or irritated by minor inconveniences can be a sign of a brain injury.
  • Anxiety: Constantly feeling worried or anxious for no apparent reason.

At APEX Brain Centers, we believe in addressing brain injuries holistically through various treatment methods, such as functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, and metabolic and nutritional therapies. If you or a loved one experiences these symptoms, it’s important to seek professional help and address the issue as early as possible.

Preventing Brain Injuries

General Safety Measures

Preventing brain injuries is essential for individuals of all ages, including babies, children, and older adults. We recommend following some general safety measures to minimize the risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury:

  • Always supervise young children and ensure that they play in safe areas.
  • Encourage older adults to use handrails on stairs, remove area rugs that can cause them to trip, install grab bars in their bathrooms, and maintain sufficient lighting at home.

Vehicle Safety

Driving safety is crucial in reducing brain injuries. We advise taking the following precautions:

  • Ensure everyone in the vehicle wears a seatbelt every time they drive or ride.
  • DO NOT drive distracted with phones or pets on your lap.
  • Refrain from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Use age-appropriate car seats and booster seats for children, adhering to installation guidelines.

Workplace Safety

Creating a safe work environment can help prevent traumatic brain injuries. We recommend the following measures:

  • Follow safety regulations and guidelines in your workplace.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear, such as helmets, when working in high-risk areas or doing physically demanding tasks.
  • Stay vigilant and report any safety violations or hazards to the management.

Sports Safety

Participating in sports, especially contact sports, can increase the risk of brain injuries. To minimize this risk, we suggest taking the following steps:

  • Use recommended and properly fitted safety equipment, such as helmets and padding.
  • Follow sports-specific safety guidelines and rules set by coaches and organizations.
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of concussions and ensure proper treatment and evaluation before returning to play.

Home Safety

Implementing home safety measures can protect individuals, particularly babies and older adults, from brain injuries. Here are some tips to make your home a safer place:

  • Install safety gates to prevent falls on stairs, especially for babies and young children.
  • Ensure handrails are installed on both sides of the stairs.
  • Keep floors clutter-free and ensure rugs are secured with non-slip pads to prevent falls.
  • Check that outdoor spaces, such as decks and porches, are properly maintained to avoid accidents.

By following the recommendations in each of these subsections, we can contribute to the prevention of brain injuries and create safer environments for ourselves and those around us.

Assessment and Diagnosis

Medical Examination

When a patient comes to us at APEX Brain Centers, the initial step in addressing a potential brain injury involves a comprehensive 8-point medical examination. In this examination, our team of skilled professionals gathers information about the patient’s medical history, past injuries, and any recent incidents that could have resulted in a brain injury. We pay close attention to any symptoms reported, such as memory impairment, slurred speech, weakness in arms or legs, and other cognitive or physical changes1.

Neurological Evaluation

Our team at APEX will conduct a thorough neurological evaluation. We will also assess the patient’s cognitive function, such as their memory, attention, and language skills2. We also evaluate motor skills, balance, coordination, eye movements, motor timing, electrical output of the brain with EEG, and other aspects of the nervous system. This comprehensive 4-hour assessment, our Day of Discovery, allows us to identify any deficits and tailor a personalized treatment plan to address the patient’s specific needs1.

At APEX Brain Centers, our focus is on providing the most effective, evidence-based therapies to help our patients recover from brain injuries. Our unique approach to treatment includes functional neurology, low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and more. With our expertise and commitment to excellence, we strive to help patients achieve the best possible outcomes3.

Treatment of Brain Injuries

In this section, we’ll discuss the various treatment methods for brain injuries, including medical procedures, rehabilitation therapy, and supportive care. Each treatment approach has its unique benefits and is tailored to the individual’s needs based on the severity of the injury.

Medical Procedures

Depending on the severity of the brain injury, medical procedures may be required to treat the condition. In cases of severe TBI or DAI, surgery might be necessary to reduce pressure and swelling within the brain, repair skull fractures, or remove any foreign objects that have penetrated the skull source

Rehabilitation Therapy

Rehabilitation therapy is an important part of the recovery process, particularly after life-threatening factors are addressed. At APEX Brain Centers, we focus on functional neurology to address the root cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms. Our approach encompasses a variety of therapies, including low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback/biofeedback, balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based therapies, electrotherapy, and metabolic and nutritional therapies. These methods aim to improve physical abilities, cognitive function, memory, and overall quality of life source.

Supportive Care

In addition to medical procedures and rehabilitation therapies, supportive care plays a crucial role in the recovery from a brain injury. Supportive care can involve ongoing monitoring and lifestyle modifications tailored to the individual’s needs, home care recommendations with medical devices prescribed for home use, and more. This aspect of treatment ensures that the person receives optimal benefits from their therapy sessions and continues to make progress during their recovery journey.

As part of our commitment to comprehensive care at APEX Brain Centers, we focus on providing the necessary resources and ongoing support to help our clients achieve the best possible outcomes after a brain injury. By combining state-of-the-art medical procedures, effective rehabilitative therapies, and empathetic supportive care, we strive to empower individuals on their path to healing and maximized brain function.

Footnotes

  1. APEX Brain Centers Day of Discovery
  2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke – Traumatic Brain Injury
  3. APEX Brain Centers – Our Programs

Dr. Michael S. Trayford is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Neurofeedback Specialist with over 20 years of experience in the practice of advanced functional neurology. He is one of the most highly sought-after brain rehabilitation specialists because of the life-changing outcomes his patients consistently experience. After over a decade in private practice and working alongside other pioneers in the field, Dr. Trayford developed his multimodal intensive brain training and rehabilitation program built around the science of Neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to learn and grow dependent upon the stimulation it receives from its environment. He later founded APEX Brain Centers to combine his ground-breaking rehabilitation approach with a unique patient and caretaker-centered care model. Under Dr. Trayford’s leadership, APEX Brain Centers has successfully treated thousands of patients and earned the reputation of a world-renowned brain training and rehabilitation practice. Since its inception, Dr. Trayford has been a leader of the Brain Training revolution treating patients worldwide. In addition, he is a published journal contributor and international lecturer. His experience with various patients of all ages and neurological conditions has given him a unique perspective on brain health and human performance. He is also well-versed in collaborating with other health care professionals, making him an invaluable asset to any care team. Dr. Trayford was awarded the Functional Neurologist of the Year distinction by the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation, where he is a proud member and conference lecturer. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Council for the Dementia Society of America and the Board of Directors for the International Society for Neuroregulation and Research. He is also a servant leader who has dedicated his adult life to serving multiple communities through Rotary International and other notable causes. When he’s not treating patients, Dr. Trayford usually reads or researches anything related to the brain, human performance, and leadership. He also loves spending time outdoors with his wife Denise, their two daughters, and dogs in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmichaeltrayford/

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