Brain Injuries Have More Damaging Effects Than Previously Thought

A study by Mayo Clinic researchers has found that even mild traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can have negative effects on a person’s functionality. The study indicated that sensory-motor functions, thinking awareness and communication ability could be affected by what is typically considered mild TBI.

Mayo Study

The study examined medical records from Olmsted County, Minn., from several decades. The researchers found a much higher rate of TBI than the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate. Sixty percent of the injuries were “outside the standard categorization” for TBI used by the CDC.
The Mayo Clinic data indicated 558 per 100,000 people suffer a TBI, while the CDC estimated only 341 per 100,000. The report indicates the elderly and young had the highest risk, perhaps due to a greater likelihood of falling or sports injuries. Men, likewise, had a higher risk.

New Classification of TBI

The study employed a new identification system to classify head injuries using a more comprehensive scale. The new categories identified patients as “definite,” “probable” and “possible” TBIs.
One researcher noted, “In assessing the frequency, we have likely been missing a lot of cases.” The failure to have a comprehensive enough assessment mean some people suffering from a TBI may have been released untreated.
Some symptoms, like momentary blacking-out or unconsciousness and nausea, could have been ignored when they may have indicated some degree of TBI. The danger with unrecognized and untreated TBI is that it can lead to a host of other issues for the injured party.

Causes of TBIs

Falls continued to be the leading cause of TBI (35.2%) in the United States. Falls cause half (50%) of the TBIs among children aged 0 to 14 years and 61% of all TBIs among adults aged 65 years and older. Automobile accidents and sports injuries also contribute to considerable numbers of TBIs.

Other Problems Resulting from TBIs

The CDC reports that TBI may cause problems that place the injured person a risk for further harm. Their list of problems includes:

  • “Difficulty understanding risky situations or avoiding risky persons.
  • Difficulty controlling one’s temper which causes others to get angry.
  • Behavioral problems, such as drinking too much.”

These problems can lead to much more dangerous situations and can pose a significant threat to a person, especially when they are unrecognized. This behavior may appear “natural” and friend and family may not easily see the connection to the TBI.
The CDC states that 75 percent of all TBIs are a result of concussions or other mild TBIs, and the Mayo study indicates that these mild TBIs may not be so benign. If you or a family member have suffered a blow to the head that may lead to a TBI, it is important to have a full medical checkup, with particular emphasis in examining TBI related symptoms.