An illustration of a brain with the inside shown.

Traumatic Brain Injury Toolkit

TBI occurs when a sudden trauma, such as a blow or a jolt, causes damage to the brain. The damage can be just to one area of the brain, called a focal injury, or located in more than one area of the brain, called a diffuse injury.

TBI can result from a penetrating head injury or a closed head injury. A penetrating injury occurs when an object goes through the skull and enters the brain. A closed injury can occur from any trauma that causes the brain to be violently shaken inside of the skull. A common type of closed head injury suffered in combat is known as a blast injury.

Brain injuries can occur when the head strikes an object, such as a windshield or the ground at a fast rate of speed, or when a flying or falling object strikes the head. Injury to the brain also can occur without a direct blow to the head, for example in cases of severe “whiplash.”

The trauma can cause nerve cells in the brain to stretch, tear, or pull apart, making it difficult or impossible for the cells to send messages from one part of the brain to another or to the rest of the body. TBI can interfere with how the brain works, including thinking, remembering, seeing, and controlling movements. Traumatic brain injury can range from mild to very severe depending on many things, including the force of the trauma, previous brain injuries and how quickly emergency medical treatment is given.

What do you need to know to effectively raise awareness about TBI?

  • Each year in the United States, 1.7 million people sustain traumatic brain injuries (TBI). While some of these injuries can be difficult to prevent, most can be avoided by taking simple steps.
  • For TBI patients, TRICARE covers rehabilitative services provided by physicians, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists.
  • The DoD offers a variety of products such as clinical recommendations, toolkits, and mobile applications to assist healthcare providers in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of patients with mild TBI.
  • One of the most important steps in TBI treatment is rest, allowing the brain to physically and mentally recover while removing the risk of suffering another concussion as the brain is healing.
  • Early diagnosis of TBI, as well as evaluation, and treatment can shorten return-to-duty time and lead to the best possible outcome.
  • Most cases of TBI are caused by falls, blasts, motor-vehicle crashes, “struck by” events, and assaults.
  • Many occurrences of TBI can be prevented by:
    • Making sure everyone is buckled securely in the vehicle
    • Avoiding drinking or drug use while driving
    • Wearing a helmet when participating in certain recreational activities
    • Making your living space safer.

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