Preventing Traumatic Brain Injury 

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to your brain that changes the way your brain works. A TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe. Most TBIs are mild. A TBI can change the way you think, feel, act, and move.

A TBI can result from a blow or jolt to, or penetration of the head. Some causes are a fall, a car accident, a fight, or a sports injury. From 2006 to 2010, falls were the leading cause of TBIs at about 40%. This is followed by blunt trauma at 15% and car accidents at 14%. Violence accounted for about 10% of all TBIs. 

Preventing a second TBI

If you were diagnosed with a TBI in the past, you should know that recovery may be slower if you have another TBI. If you still have symptoms of a TBI, they can increase your risk for a second TBI. These symptoms include:

  • Sleepiness

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue

  • Visual disturbances

  • Slowed thinking

  • Balance problems

Make sure you are aware of these symptoms. Work closely with your healthcare team to manage them. Don’t try to drive or participate in any dangerous activity if your symptoms put you at risk for an accident.

Preventing a first TBI

Many TBIs occur during car accidents. Falls, firearms, explosions, and assaults are other major causes. Falls are a leading cause of TBIs for adults ages 45 and older and children. Car accidents and assaults are leading causes for teens and young adults.  

Alcohol or drug abuse can lead to a first or even a second TBI. Risky behavior is another danger that can lead to a TBI. Mental health issues like depression and post-traumatic stress disorder can lead to poor decision-making and high risk behavior, including drug and alcohol problems. All these factors can increase your risk for a TBI.

Tips for preventing TBI

The first tip is to recognize the dangers of a TBI and avoid risky behavior. Here are some other tips:

  • Take good care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Get good quality sleep.

  • Make your home safe from falls: remove throw rugs, use handrails on stairways, have good lighting, use nonslip mats in the shower.

  • Keep firearms unloaded and locked away.

  • Have your vision checked at least once a year. Poor vision can increase your risk for falls and other types of accidents.

  • If you have diabetes and have numbness in your feet, avoid walking in poorly lit areas.

  • Spend time with your friends and family and be active in social activities. People who become isolated and withdrawn from loved ones are more likely to engage in risky behaviors.

  • Wear a seatbelt when you drive.

  • Wear a helmet if you ride a motorcycle or bicycle. Also wear one if you engage in any high-risk activities like skiing, contact sports, or snowmobiling.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a TBI, work closely with your healthcare provider until your brain heals. Be aware that your symptoms could put you at risk for another TBI. If you’ve never had a TBI, you can prevent one by avoiding risky behaviors.