Heads up: Facts about brain injury and concussion

little girl wearing helmet Even a minor bump to the head can cause serious problems with thinking, memory, movement and emotional health. The effects of a brain injury can last for a few days or months — or for a lifetime.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI): Brain injury caused by a bump, jolt or blow to the head.

Concussion: A mild form of TBI affecting the way the brain works.

  • 75 percent of head injuries are concussions or mild TBIs.
  • 2.5 million emergency room visits in the U.S. were due to TBI in 2013.
  • 5.3 million Americans are living with a disability caused by TBI.

Common causes of head injuries

  • Falls — 47 percent
  • Being struck by or against an object — 15 percent
  • Motor vehicle crashes — 14 percent

Watch for symptoms
Symptoms can appear right after an injury, a few hours later or days later.

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and balance problems
  • Fatigue
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping

Protect yourself from brain injury by:

  • Wearing a helmet when biking, skiing or playing contact sports like hockey and football.
  • Seeking medical attention right away if you have a concussion.
  • Playing it safe after a concussion. Ask your doctor when it’s OK to return to activities.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.