The Symptoms, Causes, And Types of Brain Damage

I never did think I had brain damage. –Leon Spinks

In one of the greatest upsets in boxing history, Leon Spinks defeated Muhammad Ali and won the World Heavyweight Title on February 15, 1978 in Las Vegas Nevada. His career boxing record was a total of 46 fights, 26 wins, 14 wins by KO, 17 losses and 3 draws. He also competed in the Olympic games in 1976 and won Gold for Boxing as a Light heavyweight. While in 1974, he won the Bronze medal in the World Amateur Championship as a Light Heavyweight in Havana Cuba. Now, you have to assume that being a professional boxer, Mr. Spinks has been hit in the head a great number of times. And often enough, those punches were delivered by some extremely strong individuals.

Mr. Spinks admits that he never thought he had brain damage and that is exactly the error in thinking most of us would fall victim to. It is extremely difficult to judge head trauma yourself… as after all, it was your brain that’s been rattled. Not to mention, boxers and non-boxers alike have died from receiving single punches perfectly placed. Can you recall the last time your heads received a good knocking? If you can’t.. that in itself is a problem. But if you have been and can remember, chances are you suffered some form of brain damage even if it was only minor.

Anyone can suffer from brain damage, and beyond being struck or hit in the head, you can suffer from it due to other causes as well. But sadly, many people are unable realize they’ve been so severely injured. For example, High School Football players colliding repeatedly in games and practices, hitting and rattling their heads frequently and often. Humans are tough enough to perhaps withstand a single or a few good blows, but repeated hits over a course of time can cause severe brain damage, and can even lead to further problems such as Dementia years later.

The biggest issue with brain damage beyond not being able to physically see something is wrong without an MRI is that often the symptoms can be bearable which keeps people from actually getting checked out. In order to help understand how serious an issue this can be and to protect yourself and loved ones in the future, read the following on statistics, types, causes, and symptoms of Brain Damage.  You may be surprised as to what you may find. Because after all, Mr. Spink thought he was safe… and that man has probably taken thousands of punches directly to his head. Any other person would obviously think brain damage would have occurred.

Brain Damage Statistics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Nearly 1/3 of injury related deaths are due to a form Brain Damage
  • Every year, around 230,000 hospitalizations occur due to a form of Brain Damage
  • Around 2% of the U.S population has to live with disabilities due to Brain Damage
  • Every 15 seconds an American sustains serious Brain Damage
  • Roughly 50,000 patients die every year as a result of Brain Damage
  • For children aged up to 14 there is an estimated 2,700 deaths, 37,000 hospitalizations, and 435,000 emergency visits every year

Types of Brain Damage

There are two types of Brain Damage that can occur: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Acquired Brain Injury (ABI). TBI occurs when the head is struck with some degree of force. The damage done is also dependent on the total force, location of the strike, and number of strikes. Of course, whether someone was wearing a helmet, or is simply thick skulled, also determines the amount of damage done. ABI occurs in every other scenario when force is not the cause of damage.

Due to the brazen nature and high risk behaviors of males, they are typically more at risk and especially those between the ages of 15 and 24 are most vulnerable. The most susceptible however are children and the elderly as you could imagine. Shaken Baby Syndrome for example occurs when an adult shakes a baby, usually out of frustration that the child won’t stop crying. As a result, the child’s brain rattles inside their skull and becomes permanently damaged.

Common Causes For Brain Damage

Common causes for Traumatic Brain Damage:

  • Car Accidents
  • Sport Injuries (Boxing, Football, and Rugby top the list for the most common)
  • Falling (Slipping in the shower, on ice, on wet floors)
  • Accidents (Essentially any accident where your head is struck such as falling off your bicycle)
  • Physical Violence

Common causes for Acquired Brain Damage:

  • Being exposed to toxic or poisonous chemicals and substances
  • Infections from diseases
  • Choking, drowning, or be strangled (Anything that cuts air off to the brain)
  • Strokes
  • Heart Attacks
  • Brain Tumors
  • Aneurysms
  • Neurological Illnesses
  • Abuse and use of illegal narcotics

Symptoms of Brain Damage

It’s easy enough to understand the various ways your brain can become injured; however it is a much more difficult task being able to notice the symptoms of Brain Damage. Especially when attempting to notice it in yourself. If you fear you have brain damage, be sure to ask friends and family if they’ve noticed anything different about you. And if your worries and fears only continue to grow, be sure to get checked out by a medical professional. There are four types of symptoms of Brain Damage to be aware of: Cognitive, Perceptual, Physical, and Behavioral/Emotional.

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Inability or difficulty when processing information
  • Inability or difficulty expressing thoughts or emotions
  • Inability or difficulty when attempting to understand what others say
  • Decreased attention span
  • Reduced or impaired decision-making skills
  • Loss of either long-term or short-term memory

Perceptual Symptoms

  • Changes to vision, hearing, or sense of touch
  • Spatial recognition (depths are off visibly)
  • A loss of a sense of time, unable to tell how much time has passed
  • Odd smells and tastes noticed
  • Loss of balance
  • Inability to deal with pain as well

Physical Symptoms

  • Constant headaches
  • Easily becoming mentally fatigued
  • Easily becoming physically fatigued
  • Paralysis
  • Tremors, shaking, and seizures
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Odd sleep patterns
  • Irregular or slurred speech
  • Loss of Consciousness

Behavioral/Emotional Symptoms

  • Increased irritability and a lack of patience
  • Inability to deal with stress
  • Constantly feeling tired and sluggish
  • Reduced or increased reactions to emotions
  • Inability to recognize a disability (balance, speech, sight, etc)
  • An overly aggressive attitude

Most Common Symptoms Overall

  • Confusion
  • Fatigue, lethargy, and changes in sleeping patterns
  • Easily becoming lost or confused
  • Constant headaches
  • Persistent pain in neck
  • Slowness overall of actions
  • Stark mood swings
  • Becoming dizzy easily
  • Easily distracted
  • Increased sensitivity to sound and light
  • A loss of senses (smell, taste, touch)
  • Constant Nausea
  • Listlessness
  • Tinnitus (sharp ringing in ear)

The author of this piece is Damien S. Wilhelmi. If you enjoyed this article you can follow me on Twitter @CustParadigm. When I’m not writing about traumatic injuries for a local Brain Injury Attorney in Colorado, I’m generally reading what I can to keep on top of the laws surrounding this issue.