Most of us worry about staying healthy, safe and independent as we age. People over 75 years old have the highest rate of TBI related hospitalization and death, and falls are the leading cause of Traumatic brain injury (TBI).
TBI is caused by a bump or blow to the head. The impact can cause the brain to be mildly bruised or cause severe damage to the brain tissue resulting in a wide range of signs and symptoms.
The symptoms of a mild TBI can be hard to spot. They can be easily missed as you appear fine to others but you may notice that you are acting or feel a little differently. The signs and symptoms may appear straight away or may take days or weeks to become apparent.
Symptoms of Mild TBI include:
· Low grade persistent headache
· Changes in memory, concentration, organisational skills, decision making or problem solving.
· Reduce speed of thought, speech, acting or reading.
· Confusion or disorientation
· Tiredness or lack of motivation
· Changes in sleep patterns
· Loss of balance, dizziness or light-headedness
· Visual disturbance
· Changes in sense of taste or small
· Ringing in the ears
· Changes in sexual drive
· Mood changes like, feeling sad, anxious, irritable, or angry.
Symptoms of Moderate or severe TBI:
· All of the above symptoms
· Convulsions or seizures
· Inability to wake up
· Dilation of one or both pupils
· Slurred speech
· Weakness or numbness in arms or legs
· Loss of co-ordination
· Confusion, restlessness or agitation
What to do in the event of a TBI
Seek immediate medical advice. Inform the doctor of the nature of the injury, your symptoms and any medications you are taking. It is of particular importance to tell them of any blood thinning medication ie aspirin or warfarin, as these can increase the risk of complications.
Can TBI be prevented?
Yes. The leading cause of TBI is falls so by reducing the risk of falling then the risk of sustaining a TBI is also reduced. One of the greatest indicators of high falls risk is having had a fall in the past. If this is the case, please see your local physiotherapist as soon as possible to have your balance tested and start on a home program or group program as soon as possible.
Exercise can make you stronger, improve co-ordination and balance. Any exercise is good exercise but a physiotherapist can tailor a programme to fit your specific needs. You should check with your doctor before starting an exercise programme.
Reducing the risks at home:
Nearly half of all falls happen in the home. Some simple changes can significantly reduce the hazards in your home, lifting rugs, removing objects from the floor or stairs which are a tripping hazard, rearranging cupboards to put frequently used items within easy reach, iImproved lighting, grab rails and non-slip bathroom mats. Even changing your footwear can make a big difference. An occupational therapist can look at your home and advise you on any modifications required.
Ask Your doctor or pharmacist to review all the medications you take (both prescribed and over the counter). Drugs can have adverse side effects or interact with each other to produce unwanted symptoms such as dizziness.
Have your vision checked
Aging can affect your vision. Having regular check ups to ensure your glasses are correct and that there are no conditions that limit vision, like glaucoma or cataracts. Poor vision can increase the chance of falling.
If you suspect that you, or someone you know has sustained a TBI after a fall, please visit your doctor or the hospital as soon as possible. Once you have been deemed medically stable, rehabilitation may be essential to ensure optimal recovery. For more information about rehabilitation programs either at our centre or in your home, please contact the office on 9906 7777 or via email email@example.com