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March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

What Is Brain Injury?

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. Acquired brain injury is an injury to the brain that is not hereditary, present at birth or degenerative. Causes include traumatic brain injury (TBI); anoxic/hypoxic injury (e.g. heart attack, carbon monoxide poisoning), intracranial surgery, seizure disorders and toxic exposure (e.g. substance abuse, ingestion or inhalation of volatile agents).

Traumatic brain injury with or without skull fracture is an insult to the brain caused by an external physical force that may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness. Brain injury may result in an impairment of:

  • Cognitive abilities;
  • Physical functioning;
  • Behavioral functioning; or
  • Emotional functioning.

A brain injury may be either temporary or permanent and may cause either partial or total functional impairment. Mild brain injury, also known as concussion, is an injury that may leave the person feeling dazed or cause a brief loss of consciousness. Mild brain injury can lead to "post-concussion syndrome" that can include:

  • Headaches;
  • Dizziness;
  • Mild mental slowing; and
  • Fatigue.

For some people, symptoms may last only a few months; for others, problems may persist indefinitely. The most common causes of TBI are:

  • Vehicle crashes;
  • Falls;
  • Sports injuries; and
  • Violence.

Other acquired brain injuries can be caused by medical events such as anoxia (loss of oxygen to the brain), aneurysms, infections to the brain, tumors or stroke.

For more information on brain injury characteristics, read here.