Each year, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) contribute to a substantial number of deaths, hospital admissions and emergency department visits each year. A traumatic brain injury can be the result of trauma such as a blow to the head, or penetration of the skull, or it can be from lack of oxygen to the brain. The brain is the body’s control centre, and any damage can cause serious problems. These may include problems with memory, behavioural or personality changes, movement disorders, paralysis, change in visions, loss of hearing, persistent headaches or seizures, anger and impulse control problems, loss of motor function, impaired speech, loss of consciousness and death.
- From 2006-2008 in Alberta there were on average 2,227 hospital admissions each year with a traumatic head injury.
- Males had twice as many head injury hospital admissions as females.
- Males accounted for 70% of the admissions with an average of 1,565 admissions each year.
- Falls were the leading cause of traumatic head injuries and accounted for 40% of the admissions with an average of 892 admissions each year.
- For males, falls accounted for 35% of the head injury admissions with an average of 555 admissions each year.
- For females, falls accounted for 50% of the head injury admissions with an average of 337 admissions each year.
- Motor vehicle collisions were the second leading cause of head injury admissions and accounted for 27% with an average of 602 admissions each year.
- For males, motor vehicle collisions accounted for 26% of the head injury admissions with an average of 425 admissions each year.
- For females, motor vehicle collisions accounted for 27% of the head injury admissions with an average of 177 admissions each year.
- Falls cause most brain and spinal cord injuries in babies and young children:
- Keep one hand on your baby when they are on the change table or other furniture.
- Place car seats, carriers and rockers on the floor.
- Always use the crotch safety straps when your child is in a swing, highchair, shopping cart and stroller.
- Install wall-mounted gates at the top and bottom of stairs.
- Install window guards. Place cribs and other furniture away from windows and balconies.
- Only let children 6 years of age or older on the top bunk bed. Put carpet under the bunk bed.
- At the playground look for deep, soft surfacing like sand or woodchips. For high places, look for handrails, barriers or railings. Stay close to your child and teach playground safety rules.
- Always wear a helmet when bike riding.
- Motor vehicle crashes cause most brain and spinal cord injuries in youth and adults:
- Use a seatbelt every time you ride in a vehicle.
- If you have used alcohol or drugs, do not drive. Do not be a passenger of someone who has used alcohol or drugs.
- Drive at the posted speed limit and obey all traffic signals and signs.
- Drive with both hands on the steering wheel and your full attention.
- Falls cause the most brain and spinal cord injuries in older adults:
- Have your doctor or pharmacist look at all medications that you are taking every year. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter pills, vitamins and herbal supplements.
- Keep active for strength and balance. Do at least 30 minutes of activity every day.
- Watch your step wherever you are. Wear shoes that support your feet. Have your eyes checked every year. Avoid rushing and doing too many things at once.
- Speak up about dizziness. Tell your doctor if you often feel dizzy or lightheaded.
- Protect your head - correctly wear the right helmet for your sport.
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