Brain Injury

Looking over the shoulder of a female medical professional, at brain scans with dark spots indicating damage, posted on an illuminated screen

According to Brain Injury Canada, acquired brain injury is "an injury to the brain, which is not hereditary, congenital, or degenerative. It can be caused by a traumatic blow to the head, severe rotation of the neck or whiplash, or even lack of oxygen." It is estimated that at least 12% of the general population will sustain a brain injury at some point in their life, with the highest incidence affecting adolescents and young adults. 1 2

Some common causes of brain injury include motor vehicle crashes, falls, and sports-related impacts. A moderate to severe brain injury can have serious long-term consequences for the victim, and may require rehabilitation that may include physical, occupational, and/or speech/language therapy, psychology/psychiatry, and social support. 3

A concussion is a type of brain injury, often referred to as mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). Although concussions are considered to be mild in nature, the consequences of an mTBI can have a significant impact on an individual. Post-concussive symptoms can include the following: 4

  • Amnesia
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Balance problems/dizziness
  • Double or fuzzy vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Nausea
  • Feeling sluggish, foggy, or groggy
  • Irritability
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Slowed reaction time

While some of these symptoms are most apparent in the acute phase following the injury, Carroll et al. (2004) notes that some post-concussive symptoms can persist for a few weeks or, in some cases, up to a year. Recovery can take even longer for individuals with a history of previous concussions, or for those who sustain another head injury while still in the recovery phase of a previous concussion. 5

  • 1. Frost, Farrer, Primosch, & Hedges (2013)
  • 2. Canadian Institute for Health Information (2006)
  • 3. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2015)
  • 4. Brain Injury Canada (n.d.)
  • 5. Graham, Rivara, Ford, & Spicer (2014)