Your Brain Will Thank You Later
Jamie Hendrickson BSN, RN
Pediatric and Trauma Injury Prevention Coordinator, Ministry Saint Joseph’s Children’s Hospital, Marshfield
Approximately 1.7 million people suffer a TBI every year, and contribute to 30.5% of injury related deaths in the United States. Populations that are most affected include: children ages 0-4, teens aged from 15-19 and people over the age of 65. Medical costs associated with TBI’s are estimated to be around 76.5 billion dollars. Brain injuries are classified as mild, or severe, and diagnosed by a complete neurological exam, CAT scan, MRI, SPECT or PET scan. You may also be evaluated by a neuropsychologist, occupational, physical and speech therapy to determine any specific deficits associated with the TBI. Some of the injuries may have short term effects; others may have life long implications.
TBI’s can be caused several different ways. They include: open head injury, closed head injury, deceleration injuries, chemical/toxic, and lack of oxygen (hypoxia), tumors, infections and strokes. Initial treatment upon arrival to the hospital includes treatment by medical professionals and a trauma team led by the trauma surgeon. Further evaluation may be performed by a neurosurgeon or neurologist, and if surgery is needed it will be done by the neurosurgeon. Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, is the only Verified Level II Adult and Pediatric Trauma Center in the region and has this type of team ready and waiting for you.
After surgery, there is a recovery phase that will include rehabilitation services (Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital has the only Certified Pediatric rehabilitation program in the state) where the goals are to: stabilize the medical and rehabilitation issues, prevent any secondary complications, restore lost functional abilities, develop strategies to increase functional independence, and analyze needs and changes a patient and family might have when they go home. Recovery has no time frame and can range from months to years after the incident, based on the severity of the injury.
Prognosis for TBI’s varies by degree of injury. Surgery may need to be performed to remove or repair hematomas, or contusions. There may also be several disabilities associated with a TBI as well. Those can range from cognition deficits, decrease in sensory processing, behavioral or mental health changes (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression etc). More severe injuries can result in what is called a persistent vegetative state (PVS). This can last for a month or more, and is associated with states of unconsciousness, lack of awareness of surroundings, and being unarousable. The individual may have some periods of alertness and a sleep wake cycle, but this can last for periods greater than a month.
Some injury prevention tips include but are not limited to: use of seatbelt restraints, proper sized child booster seats, wearing proper fitting safety helmets/devices based on the type of activity, having adequate lighting and using railings when walking down the stairs. We also need to ensure that walking paths/areas are kept clean and safe, and always keep guns and ammunition locked up and away from children. Remember that we all play a role in injury prevention and safety.
If you need further information, contact Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital injury prevention line at 715.387.9600, or visit traumaticbraininjury.com or cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury.