22nd Dec 2010
Drunk Driving Accidents Are the Leading Cause of Traumatic Brain Injuries
The leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, (TBI) is drunk driving. Nationally, 61% of traumatic brain injuries are a result of motor vehicle accidents. In Massachusetts 40% of driving fatalities were related to alcohol consumption.
Direct trauma to the brain can occur when the skull strikes an object, for example a steering wheel in a car. Even without a skull penetration or fracture, in these types of accidents, the forces imparted to the brain can cause the brain to collide with the inside of the hard skull. This can cause bruising of the brain (a contusion) and bleeding (hemorrhage). Traumatic brain injuries in automobile related accidents can cause damage to parts of the brain closest to the point of impact, quite often the tip of the frontal lobe. In cases of blunt head trauma the brain can also be injured directly opposite the site of trauma — on the other side of the brain, an injury known as contrecoup. This injury typically occurs when a moving head strikes a stationary object like the windshield. At impact the brain opposite the site of impact is pulled away from the skull, injuring the brain there.
There are many common myths about traumatic brain injury. One misconception is that psychological effects such as depression are not related to TBI, another is that brain injuries are similar based on the type of accident. Warning signs of TBI include: nausea, seizures, confusion or other cognitive problems, a change in personality, depression, irritability, and other emotional and behavioral problems. The consequences of TBI can range from a mild concussion to permanent physical, cognitive, and behavioral/emotional impairments, seizure disorders, paralysis, coma and death.