Traumatic brain injury (TBI), also known as intracranial injury, occurs when an external force traumatically injures the brain. TBI can be classified based on severity, mechanism (closed or penetrating head injury), or other features (e.g., occurring in a specific location or over a widespread area). Head injury usually refers to TBI, but is a broader category because it can involve damage to structures other than the brain, such as the scalp and skull.
TBI is a major cause of death and disability worldwide, especially in children and young adults. Males sustain traumatic brain injuries more frequently than do females. Causes include falls, vehicle accidents, and violence. Prevention measures include use of technology to protect those suffering from automobile accidents, such as seat belts and sports or motorcycle helmets, as well as efforts to reduce the number of automobile accidents, such as safety education programs and enforcement of traffic laws.
Brain trauma can occur as a consequence of a focal impact upon the head, by a sudden acceleration/deceleration within the cranium or by a complex combination of both movement and sudden impact. In addition to the damage caused at the moment of injury, brain trauma causes secondary injury, a variety of events that take place in the minutes and days following the injury. These processes, which include alterations in cerebral blood flow and the pressure within the skull, contribute substantially to the damage from the initial injury.
TBI can cause a host of physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and behavioral effects, and outcome can range from complete recovery to permanent disability or death. The 20th century saw critical developments in diagnosis and treatment that decreased death rates and improved outcome. Some of the current imaging techniques used for diagnosis and treatment include CT scans computed tomography and MRIs magnetic resonance imaging. Depending on the injury, treatment required may be minimal or may include interventions such as medications, emergency surgery or surgery years later. Physical therapy, speech therapy, recreation therapy, occupational therapy and vision therapy may be employed for rehabilitation.