One of the most common reasons why families contact us about our air ambulance services is to help someone who had a brain injury. Brain injuries have an almost overwhelming scope and a very common injury that is sometimes missed upon first diagnosis. Brain injuries can effect just about every aspect of a person's life and can change relationships with friends, family and loved ones.
Brain injuries are so serious because it effects the whole of the person. A person who suffers a brain injury will have physical, emotional, and cognitive changes. The way someone acts is altered, the way they remember can change and how they manage situations can be different.
Some brain injuries are worse than others. Mild brain injuries can happen if there is a loss of consciousness and/or confusion with shorter than a half hour of disorientation. Usually in mild cases MRI and CAT scans will appear normal but the person is experiencing problems thinking clearly, headaches, mood swings and other emotional problems. A common mild brain injury, for example, is a concussion. Mild brain injuries are often missed at the time of the initial injury and can last longer than you might expect. While many people heal in a short amount of time, about 15% of people who suffer mild brain injuries deal with the effects for one year or longer.
Severe brain injuries are the result of a loss of consciousness for over 30 minutes and memory loss after the injury. The impacts of severe brain injuries are more serious however they vary based on how severe the initial injury was plus other complications. If the person is cared for quickly it can limit the after effects so time is an important factor. Moderate to severe brain injuries can cause attention, confusion and other cognitive deficits that can impact a person long term. Speech and language therapy are very common. Other senses like touch, perception, vision and hearing can be lost or weakened.
Severe brain injuries will require a village to help the person. A person who suffers a severe brain injury can develop dependent behaviors and lack emotional coping skills. Sleeping disorders can develop which can complicate the healing process. Denial and depression are also common.
Most brain injuries are the result of falling. Almost 41% of all brain injuries happen from a fall, which can effect the elderly more than any other demographic. 15.5% of brain injuries happen when a person is struck by something and just over 14% are the result of a motor vehicle accident. Males are most likely to suffer a brain injury (1.5 times more likely than females) and while elderly people are most likely to suffer falls they are not the highest-risk age groups. Toddlers 0-4 years of age and teenagers 15-19 years old are the two age groups most at risk.
Recovery from brain injuries can take a long time depending on the severity and other factors. Thankfully there are several treatment options and coping skills that families can use with the help of medical professionals. While the length of the outcome is hard to predict most adults can progress through the common recovery stages, even if there are peaks and valleys along the way.