COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - March is Brain Injury Awareness month and doctors at Palmetto Health know many people are getting ready to hit the roadways for spring trips.
Motor vehicle accidents are the reason for 17 % of all traumatic brain injuries in the U.S. A traumatic brain injury or "TBI" is usually caused by a violent blow or a jolt to the head. But, it's not like other injuries in the sense that it has wide-ranging physical and psychological effects.
It could range from a mild concussion to a gunshot wound to the head.
According to the Brain Injury Association of America, each year 2-and-a-half million American adults and children will suffer a TBI. The CDC says nearly 300,000 instances of TBI are caused by car accidents each year.
Some TBI's could be from a direct blow to the head or no surface contact at all - like if you were to suffer whiplash and your brain shakes inside your skull.
Palmetto Health pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Katherine McClung Smith, told WIS that 3 million Americans live with long-term disabilities and impacts of TBI's. She said there's a range in severity and that's why the effects can look different from injury to injury.
"Some cases these people are just watched," Dr. McClung Smith said ."And the more severe cases you can also have bruising within the brain tissue. And those are the cases that you expect them to have a pretty significant disability afterwards. It could be anything from headaches to memory impairment and difficulty thinking to someone who is so profoundly injured that they can no longer manage simple day-to-day tasks."
Dr. McClung Smith said her one message to people this month is "prevention, prevention, prevention." She told WIS it's about buckling your seatbelt when you're in the car, wearing a helmet on a motorcycle or bike, and not driving impaired whether by alcohol or by your cell phone.
Also, if your kids playing sports have any symptoms on the field after sustaining a hit - make sure they go through the proper concussion protocol.