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Are brain injuries an overlooked health problem?

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While common head injuries seen in UK hospitals include minor concussions, lacerations and bruises, severe head injuries can be life-changing – suffering a brain injury could have significant long-term effects on your physical and mental health, as well as the way you socialise and interact with others. Considering the far-reaching potential consequences of sustaining an injury to the brain, how overlooked are brain injuries and why is it so important to never delay seeking treatment?

What do statistics reveal about brain injury?

Brain injury-related admissions are extremely common in UK hospitals, with approximately one brain injury patient admitted every 90 seconds and one head injury patient admission every three minutes. While the human cost of traumatic brain injury is well-documented, these kinds of injuries generate a total annual expense of £15 billion at a national level. In recent years, we’ve seen a 28% increase in the number of women admitted to hospital with head injuries, and a 24% increase in instances of males suffering strokes – both are considered significant risk factors for further brain injury.

Causes of brain injury and long-term effects

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) usually occurs when the brain collides with the skull due to forceful impact; typical causes and risk factors associated with TBI include accidents in the workplace, sporting accidents, violent assaults, road accidents and slips, trips and falls. The immediate effects of TBI include loss of consciousness, headaches, pupil dilation and vomiting, while long-term symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, personality changes and mood swings – if you suffer a serious brain injury, you could experience impairment in cognitive function, mood regulation and sensory and motor function; you could also experience reduced energy and alertness and a decreased ability to filter and respond to stimuli in your environment.

Is this an overlooked problem?

It could be argued that brain injuries are overlooked because they may not always be apparent or visible – while superficial physical injuries can be easily spotted and diagnosed by medical professionals, identifying serious brain injuries often requires a CT scan and long-term performance monitoring. While many patients may feel fine after sustaining the initial injury (failing to seek immediate medical care and undergoing a necessary CT scan), serious long-term symptoms may manifest days, weeks or even months after the incident. If you suffer a brain injury at work or in public due to an accident beyond your control, you could be eligible to make a brain injury claim for compensation due.

What’s the mental health impact?

Unfortunately, sustaining a brain injury can increase your chances of developing a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, clinical depression, or schizophrenia – it can also affect your personality and change the way that you socialise, communicate or express yourself. If you suffer a head injury, it’s essential that you seek medical care as soon as possible, no matter how minor or inconsequential the injury initially appears – this can help you to identify or alleviate potential symptoms of ill mental health.

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