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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury to your brain that changes the way your brain works. A TBI can change the way you think, feel, act, and move.
A TBI can result from anything that jolts your brain. Some causes are a fall, a car accident, a fight, or a sports injury. About half of all TBIs are caused by car accidents. Violence causes about 20 percent, and sports injuries cause about 3 percent.
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:
Make sure you are aware of these symptoms. Work closely with your health care 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.
Substance abuse is using alcohol or drugs in a way that is dangerous to you and others. Alcohol or drug abuse can lead to a first or even a second TBI.
Alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in people who have a TBI. Studies show that 75 percent of people who are admitted to the hospital for a TBI have been drinking alcohol.
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 problems with drugs and alcohol. All of these factors can increase your risk for a TBI.
The first tip is to recognize the dangers of a TBI and avoid risky behavior. Here are some other tips:
Don’t drink and drive.
Don’t use drugs or alcohol to treat symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Take good care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Get good quality sleep.
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 People who become isolated and withdrawn from loved ones are more likely to engage in risky behaviors.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 health care 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.