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Brain Injury Awareness Month: Car accidents and TBI

A Traumatic brain injury is caused by a blow or jolt to the head. In a car accident, a TBI can occur when the head is struck, penetrated or jerked and the injury can range from mild (a concussion) to severe. One of the leading causes of traumatic brain injury is a car accident, with car crashes being the leading cause of fatal head trauma among teens.

A 2006 study conducted by the Atlanta Nation Center for Injury Prevention and Control found that of the 1.4 million Americans who sustain a traumatic brain injury in the United States, 280,000 people received the injury in a motor vehicle collision. In a car accident, a common injury is whiplash. While a common injury, many people fail to realize that whiplash can be very damaging to the brain. During a whiplash injury, the head is twisted with the deceleration of the car crash, causing the brain to move around within the skull. When this happens, fibers within the brain can be stretched or torn, causing brain damage, often on a microscopic level. Additionally, when your head hits an object within the car, your brain will continue to move after your head has stopped, causing bruising or bleeding at the part of the brain near the impact. Often, the part of the brain that is impacted is the frontal lobe and temporal lobe which control emotions and attention.

Studies examining brain injuries in teen drivers found that more than 55,000 teenage drivers and passengers were injured in car accidents between 2009 and 2010. Of these, 30 percent suffered acute head injuries including skull fractures traumatic brain injuries and concussions.

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