Betty Clooney Center: Serving Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury with TBISince 1983

Traumatic Brain Injury Facts

TBI is the leading cause of death and disability for persons under 35 years of age. TBI can happen without warning to people of all ages and all walks of life.

A Traumatic Brain Injury occurs when an outside force impacts the head hard enough to cause the brain to move within the skull or if the force causes the skull to break and directly hurts the brain.

A rapid acceleration and deceleration of the head can force the brain to move back and forth across the inside of the skull. The stress from the rapid movements pulls apart nerve fibers and causes damage to brain tissue. This type of injury often occurs as a result of motor vehicle crashes and physical violence, such as Shaken Baby Syndrome.

There are many causes of brain injury, including automobile and motorcycle accidents, blunt force trauma, industrial and home accidents, sports injuries, strokes, aneurysms, encephalitis, anoxia, tumors, criminal assaults and alcohol and substance abuse.

The brain is such a complex system, the effects of TBI vary enormously and profoundly from person to person. They consist of cognitive, physical disabilities, and emotional problems - which may compound each other.

Cognitive effects are more universal. They include short-term memory loss, inability to organize and process information, difficulty concentrating and problems with initiation and abstract thinking.

Cognitive effects can include:

  • Short-term memory loss and / or long-term memory loss
  • Slowed ability to process information, especially newly acquired information
  • Trouble concentrating or paying attention for periods of time
  • Difficulty keeping up with a conversation; other communication difficulties such as word finding problems
  • Spatial disorientation
  • Impaired judgement
  • Unable to do more than one thing at a time
  • An inability to initiate activities, or once started, difficulty in completing tasks without reminders

Physical disabilities are common, but not always present. Some examples are paralysis, loss of coordination, speech problems, as well as impairment of vision, hearing and other senses.

Emotional problems can include:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Impulsive behavior
  • More easily agitated
  • Egocentric behaviors; difficulty seeing how one’s own behaviors can affect others

Survivors of brain injury need vocational, recreational, and residential services in order to realize any progress in coping, living with their brain injury, and putting their lives back together.