What Is the Difference Between a Concussion and a TBI?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can have numerous detrimental effects. Though each injury is unique, a person with a TBI may experience emotional disturbances, changes in cognition, memory loss, insomnia, and other symptoms. It can be difficult to understand the differences in the types of TBI, which may go by different names. Learn the varying degrees of TBI and what to expect from each condition.

What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is one of the mildest types of TBI. It results from an external force, such as blow or bump to the head. Concussions may also arise from falls or other outside trauma. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the most common causes of concussions are falls, motor vehicle accidents, playing recreational sports, and violent crime.
A concussion usually results from the brain making contact with your skull. A doctor may describe a concussion as a mild TBI, because it’s usually not life-threatening. Still, concussions vary widely in severity and may lead to long-term complications, especially if the victim suffers multiple concussions or does not receive appropriate treatment.
Concussions can present a variety of symptoms and warning signs, including:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Disorientation or mental confusion
  • Headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Inability to concentrate

Treatment for a concussion generally involves resting the brain. This means no driving, reading, playing sports, or even watching TV. With appropriate treatment, a concussion will typically resolve within a few days and the victim can resume normal activity with a doctor’s approval.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Other types of brain injuries fall under the realm of TBI, with classifications of mild, moderate, or severe. In general, a TBI is any injury to the brain caused by an external force, such as a blow to the head or a violent shaking motion. A TBI can greatly affect a victim’s capacity to learn, think, and control his or her emotions.
A TBI is an acquired injury (meaning not present at birth) that creates a partial or complete impairment or functional disability. The effects may be physical, cognitive, or social. A person who suffers a TBI may have trouble with:

  • Emotional regulation
  • Thinking
  • Judgment
  • Language
  • Memory
  • Attention
  • Problem solving
  • Information processing
  • Speech
  • Sensory perception

TBIs may arise from car accidents, falls, or other forms of trauma. In children, TBIs may occur from abuse, such as shaken baby syndrome.

Symptoms of TBI

The symptoms of a TBI may vary significantly depending on the nature of the injury and the area of the brain involved. A person with a diagnosed TBI may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Cognitive symptoms such as difficulty speaking, mental confusion, an inability to concentrate, difficulty recognizing everyday items, or amnesia
  • Whole body symptoms such as loss of balance, dizziness, fatigue, or fainting
  • Behavioral symptoms such as inappropriate reactions to stimuli, aggression, lack of emotional regulation, repetition of words without purpose
  • Mood changes such as anxiety, apathy, or anger
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • Sensory issues such as sensitivity to sound or light
  • Eye changes such as dilated pupils, uneven pupils, or dark circles under the eyes
  • Miscellaneous symptoms such as headache, bleeding, blurred vision, depression, seizures, or ringing in the ears

A concussion and a TBI may be terms people use interchangeably, but they have notable differences. A concussion is a form of TBI, and a mild one at that. Moderate or severe TBI can greatly affect a victim’s quality of life, often permanently. The effects of a concussion, on the other hand, are generally temporary. Concussions and TBI are similar in that they represent serious medical conditions that require appropriate care and follow-up treatment.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 3:22 pm

Can a Concussion Impact Driving Ability?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A concussion can have detrimental effects that last for days, even weeks following the initial injury. Concussion victims often complain of a number of symptoms, from dizziness and mental confusion to headaches and sensitivity to light. It seems reasonable to assume that a concussion could affect your ability to drive. Learn how a concussion affects your brain, and the types of activity you should avoid while your body heals.

How Does a Concussion Affect Driving?

To appropriately understand how a concussion could affect your driving ability, it’s essential to know what a concussion is. This mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when your brain hits the tough bone of your skull. Normally, your brain floats in your skull, protected by cerebral spinal fluid. However, an outside force, or trauma, can cause your brain to sustain damage when it hits your skull.
A concussion can occur while participating in any number of activities, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identifies car accidents, falls, and sports-related events as the most common causes of concussions. If you have a concussion, you may complain of one or many of the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Sensitivity to light
  • A blackout
  • Emotional disturbances

In the hours, days, or weeks following a blow to the head, you may experience any of these side effects. Most often, a person diagnosed with a concussion experiences dizziness, nausea, confusion, and difficulty focusing. These symptoms typically persist for 48 hours with a mild concussion, but a more severe trauma could lead to a longer recovery time.

When Can I Drive Following a Concussion?

If doctors have diagnosed you with a concussion, don’t get behind the wheel unless it’s safe to do so. You will likely receive discharge instructions from your health care provider that detail what precautions to take and when you can safely get behind the wheel. It’s essential to follow these instructions carefully.
Driving may seem like second nature to many, but it involves complex brain activity. For example, you must be cognitively aware of your surroundings and be prepared to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a crash. You must also have good hand-eye coordination to manipulate the wheel and complete basic driving maneuvers. A traumatic brain injury like a concussion can interfere with these abilities, so it’s best to avoid driving until a doctor gives you the green light.
Finally, your doctors will likely tell you to rest your brain, so it can heal. Depending on the severity of the injury, your providers may advise against reading, being out in the sun, or even watching TV, as it causes strain to your healing mind. Partaking in an activity such as driving can pose a danger to other drivers on the road, and it could hamper your recovery.

Take Care of Yourself After a Concussion

A concussion might not seem like a major injury, but any blow to the head requires careful attention. If you don’t take care of yourself, you could make your symptoms much worse or cause longer-lasting damage. A concussion, though on a milder scale, is still a traumatic brain injury. Follow your discharge orders and rest until a doctor gives you permission to resume your normal activities. Avoid driving while you recover, as you pose a danger to yourself and others.
Because of the nature of the injury, a concussion can affect your driving ability. It’s best to avoid any mentally engaging activities, including driving, until you feel well again. If you have any further questions or concerns, speak to your health care provider.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 3:05 pm

New Texas Laws for 2018

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

You may hear news about state legislation, but you may not know when new laws go into effect. The Texas Legislature was busy during the 2017 session, and a number of new laws came out of this activity. Below are some of new laws this year that you should know about:

SB 1381

Has anyone asked you to show a picture ID with a credit or debit purchase this year? If so, you may already be familiar with one of Texas’ new laws. Under SB 1381, merchants have the right to request identification with every debit or credit purchase. If you can’t provide proof of your identity, then you run the risk of the merchant declining your transaction. Lawmakers hope this measure will help decrease the amount of fraud and identity theft throughout the state. If you’ve never had to show any identification with a credit or debit card purchase, it’s because the measure is not compulsory.

SB 5

Here’s one that might affect the upcoming midterm elections. Under SB 5, lawmakers relaxed a previous voter ID law that many people considered discriminatory against minorities. Now, anyone who wants to vote, but who has difficulty obtaining the required ID, has other options. Under the law, anyone who can demonstrate a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining the required form of identification can show alternate proof, including paychecks, utility bills, or bank statements.

SB 1062

The Texas Legislature also moved to make transferring motor vehicle ownership simpler under state law. As this time, federal law stipulates that all odometer disclosures must occur on a secure form to prevent tampering. Previously, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles required that a carbon copy of this form go to its office via mail for confirmation, delaying the transfer of ownership. However, under SB 1062, the state now accepts electronic copies, which will streamline the process for everyone involved.

House Bill 1036

This new law aims to enhance women’s health by requiring commercial health insurance providers furnish more comprehensive coverage for breast cancer prevention. Under HB 1036, these carriers must cover the cost of 3-D mammograms, a superior screening tool to the traditional 2-D test. Previously, anyone receiving a mammogram could expect an extra $100 charge for requesting 3-D imaging. This will hopefully aid in the early detection of breast cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death among women nationally.

SB 1381

Some of the laws passed by the state last session aimed to right past wrongs or ease access to important services for all; others were simply practical. SB 1381, now in effect, increased the amount of milk that trailers can haul. Previously, the law allowed milk trailers to transport only 80,000 pounds of milk. Now, the limit is 90,000 pounds. While some people worried that this would lead to faster destruction of area roadways, all truckers who want to carry this amount must pay $1,200 for a permit. The revenue from each permit will go to the counties where the trucks drive through to go toward road maintenance costs.

SB 549

Bingo licenses that never became active were addressed by SB 549. Under the law, organizations that applied for bingo licenses from the Texas Lottery Commission but did not use them within a year can ask for their money back. The law also allows reimbursement of fees if an organization withdraws an application or receives a rejection from the Texas Lottery Commission.
The Texas Legislature passed other laws that became effective this year. Some of these laws may touch your everyday life; others you may never notice, but it’s always good to be aware of how the law is changing where you live and work.

Posted by Aaron Herbert at 2:30 pm