Traumatic Brain Injuries, What You Need to Know


Every year during March, we celebrate Brain Injury Awareness Month. This is the perfect time to highlight the dangers of traumatic brain injuries and how to recognize the warning signs to seek emergency care.

To help you stay safe and healthy, remember these safety tips and know that at RapidCare ER, we’re here to take care of you and your loved ones in the event of an emergency. All of our locations are open 24/7 every day of the year. So you can count on us to help when you need it most.

Traumatic Brain Injuries, What You Need to Know
Traumatic Brain Injuries, What You Need to Know

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)?

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are injuries that affect or disrupt how the brain works. They usually result from violent or forceful blows or jolts to the head, neck, or body or from objects piercing the skull and damaging brain tissue.

Mild injuries cause temporary brain dysfunction that affects a person’s speech, balance, thinking ability, and vision. While more severe TBIs can result in long-term disability or death.

Traumatic Brain Injury Facts

Traumatic brain injuries are one of the top causes of disability and death.

  • Every day 176 Americans die due to traumatic brain injury-related incidents
  • More than 223,000 TBI-related hospitalizations occur annually
  • 32% of hospitalizations involve adults 75 and older
  • More than 16,000 children under 17 are hospitalized every year due to traumatic brain injuries
  • 2,774 children under the age of 17 die each year from TBI-related injuries
Traumatic Brain Injuries, What You Need to Know
Traumatic Brain Injuries, What You Need to Know

Common Types of Brain Injuries


Concussions are the most common type of brain injury. They happen when a sudden blow to the head shakes the brain.

Because concussions are sometimes called mild traumatic brain injuries, people tend to dismiss them as a minor inconvenience. However, concussions can range from mild to severe and always require a medical evaluation.


A contusion is a bruise on the brain that results from mild bleeding after trauma to the head. Contusions and concussions often go hand in hand.

Mild contusions usually heal on their own. However, when they don’t, they can turn into a brain hematoma that may require surgery to remove. Brain hematomas are severe, and without medical attention, they can turn deadly.

Contusions can happen in different areas of the brain. When they occur in two separate regions, it’s called a coup-contrecoup injury.

The extent of the damage resulting from a contusion depends on its size, where it happened, and how long it lasts.

Brain Hemorrhage

A brain hemorrhage happens when there is uncontrolled bleeding on the brain’s surface or within the brain tissue.

Because brain hemorrhage is a localized injury, it’s often called a focal traumatic brain injury. These types of injuries are medical emergencies. Without prompt medical attention, they can become life-threatening.

Traumatic Brain Injuries, What You Need to Know
Traumatic Brain Injuries, What You Need to Know

Intracranial Hematomas

A hematoma happens when a blood vessel ruptures causing blood to collect around it. The larger the hematoma, the more severe; without emergency medical assistance, it can become life-threatening.

There are several forms of brain hematomas, including:

Epidural Hematoma: It occurs when blood collects between the skull and the brain

Subdural Hematoma: With this type of injury, blood collects under the thin membrane that protects the brain

Intercerebral Hematoma: This happens when the collection of blood occurs within the brain

Because intracranial hematomas are not visible, it’s essential to recognize the warning signs so you can receive help as soon as possible.

Symptoms of brain hematomas include:

  • Severe headache
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Slurred speech

Penetrating Brain Injury

These injuries occur when an object such as a bullet, medal rod, knife, and shrapnel pierces the skull and brain.

Never attempt to remove an object lodged in someone’s skull. Instead, call 911 immediately.

When to Go to the ER

Please seek immediate emergency medical attention if you or someone you know experiences any of the following physical, sensory, cognitive, or behavioral symptoms within hours or days after a TBI:

  • Persistent or worsening headache
  • Loss of consciousness for several minutes or hours
  • Unable to wake from sleep
  • Persistent nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures or Convulsions
  • Unequal pupil size (dilated pupil)
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
  • Slurred speech
  • Vision problems
  • Unusual or extreme aggressiveness or agitation
  • Pierced skull
Traumatic Brain Injuries, What You Need to Know
Traumatic Brain Injuries, What You Need to Know

Bring your Child to the ER if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme drowsiness or lethargy
  • Changes in eating or nursing habits
  • Unconsolable crying
  • Changes in sleeping habits (unable to sleep or sleeping more than usual)
  • Difficulting focusing
  • Seizure
  • Depressed mood
  • Uninterested in toys or activities they typically enjoy

No matter how mild, having a qualified doctor evaluate you after a TBI is always best. Remember, symptoms may not manifest immediately, and your injury could be more severe than you think.

RapidCare ER is open 24/7, and we have the most advanced technology to help our doctors diagnose and treat traumatic brain injuries quickly. So, if you think you may have a TBI, don’t hesitate to come to our emergency room; we are here to help.