Every 15 seconds, someone in the United States suffers a traumatic brain injury.
Of the 1,000,000 people treated in hospital emergency rooms each year, 50,000 go on to die and 80,000 are permanently disabled due to their traumatic brain injuries. So put those figures in perspective; those numbers are higher than all the occurrences of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis – combined.
It’s a startling statistic, but it’s the real deal – one out of every fifty Americans is currently living with a disabilities caused by a TBI incident. To make matters worse, scientists have linked head injury to Alzheimer’s disease which crops up later in life.
You don’t even have to be knocked unconscious to sustain a brain injury. Mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), also known as concussion , can damage your brain at the cellular level, and repetitive head injuries , even very minor ones, can have serious repercussions which could include permanent brain damage.
Where am I going with all this? As much as it may be a matter of choice for some and a political issue for others, it just makes good sense to wear a helmet when you ride your motorcycle.
Mild traumatic brain injuries, and they’re generally referred to as concussions, have become a serious public health problem as well. While most brain injuries can be classified as mild and occur from relatively slight blows to the head, the consequences of those traumas might not be slight and can lead to serious impairments of the brain over time. A study in Scotland found that nearly half of those who suffer what are termed “mild” head injuries ended up disabled to some degree a year later after those injuries. The study also found that those victims generally went without rehabilitation care.
Psychiatrists say delusions can be associated with mild traumatic brain injury as well. Personality changes can lead victims to near-schizophrenic symptoms as a result of their brain trauma. This type of injury can cause lesions to appear over time in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, and those lesions may explain complex neurologically-related complaints from victims following a concussion. Some show signs of compulsive behavior, sensory deviations, memory loss, violence behavior and an intolerance for even small amounts of alcohol use.
Nearly all concussion cause some damage to the brain and regardless of the severity of the initial injury, a second brain injury, if it follows closely within hours or days of the first, can even be deadly. A single brain injury causes a victim to have a three-times greater risk for a second injury and that risk climbs to eight-times that the victim will suffer additional injuries. The Brain Injury Association says traumatic brain injury is the single most frequent cause of disability and death among children and adolescents in the US. More than a million children sustain brain injuries of various classifications every year.
The BIA says that if you’re between the ages of 15 and 24 – and drive a motor vehicle, ride a bicycle, or play sports – you’re most at risk to suffer a head injury. While men are nearly twice as likely as women to injure their brains, gender is no guarantee that you won’t be injured. Data collected from patients who actually sought treatment at hospitals show gender and age influence the outcome from serious brain injury. In children under ten, young girls are four-times more likely to die from head injury than boys of the same age. Hormonal activity seems to play a role in that difference as higher levels of testosterone in young men appear to offer protection to their brains by creating additional brain mass.
It all adds up to this; anything you can do to protect your brain from even the least severe shocks and traumas is good for you, and if you ride a motorcycle, wearing a helmet is, at least at this point, about your only option. No matter how you may feel about the political. legal or social issues associated with helmet use, you should have the good common sense to wear one which offers you some hope of avoiding problems later in life if you’re in an accident.