or traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs due to sudden trauma to the head or brain, resulting in brain damage. It is the leading cause for disability among children and young adults. Although traumatic head injury can affect people of all ages, young adults between the age of 15 and 24 years and those above 75 years face an increased risk of head injury.
The Brain Injury Association of America adopted the following definition of TBI in the year 1986 - 'Traumatic brain injury is an insult to the brain, not of a degenerative or congenital nature but caused by an external physical force, that may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness, which results in an impairment of cognitive abilities or physical functioning. It can also result in the disturbance of behavioral or emotional functioning. These impairments may be either temporary or permanent and cause partial or total functional disability or psychosocial maladjustment'.
"Phineas Gage, a 25 year old, railway construction man was a quiet, well mannered, enthusiastic young man in pursuit of his dreams, until it all happened in 1848. The worker was busy packing an explosive powder into a packing rod (tamping iron), when a spark resulted in explosion, propelling the pointed rod (3-foo long) through his head. Just within a few seconds, the rod had penetrated his brain through the skull to exit the same by his temple. Dr. John Harlow who treated the victim for 73 days felt that he had very little chances of survival. To the surprise of the treating physicians, he survived the accident. However, became an obstinate, obscene, self-absorbed man following the accident. He continued to suffer from similar behavioral and personality problems until his death in 1861. "
This incident took place at a time when very little was known about the brain and it's function. Today, with our improved understanding of the brain anatomy and physiology, we are much more equipped to deal with traumatic brain injury. Yet a considerable number of people continue to lose their lives and survivors are left to suffer from devasting consequences.
Every year, approximately 1.4 million people experience a head injury, out of which about 50, 000 individuals die. More than 230, 000 people, admitted each year in the hospital for TBI, survive the disaster and are left to cope up with different aspects of physical and mental stability. The following figure represents the magnitude of the public health problem only in the United States. The depth of the global burden then? We leave it to your imagination.