What is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)? 

Tracey N. Thornton; Trauma Injury Prevention Educator for Lee Health 

A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) results from an external injury to the brain; some would say it is the “after-effect” of a tragic blow. The rapid shift of the brain moving back and forth against the skull can cause injuries ranging from mild to severe and/or temporary to permanent. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the sudden jolt to the head can cause damage to one specific area of the brain or can be widespread, causing a wide array of symptoms. TBIs are most commonly associated with falls, vehicle collisions, off-road vehicles, golf cart accidents, violent incidents, sports injuries, or any penetrating injury to the head.  

Head Injury Prevention Tips:  

Seat Belts and Airbags: Always wear your seat belt and ensure that everyone with you is wearing their seat belt. Always place small children or those who are frail in the backseat of a moving vehicle. Seat belts dramatically reduce the risk of death and serious injury. Among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45% and reduce the risk of serious injury by 50%. The safest place in a vehicle for anyone under 14 is in the back seat of a vehicle. Airbags are not substitutes for seatbelts; but an additional safety measure to work in conjunction with the aid of the seatbelt. Golf Carts are not an exception to the rule. Seat belts are imperative due to the risk of ejection in an accident.  

Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected during a crash 

Florida’s safety belt law is a primary enforcement law, meaning an officer can stop a vehicle and issue a citation simply for observing a safety belt or restraint violation. 

Children should be in the rear seats until age 14 since a front seat air bag deployment can be detrimental. Properly securing all children under the age of five in a crash-tested, federally approved child restraint device is a requirement by law.  

If you have any questions about car seat or seat belt safety, contact the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) or check the Florida Driver’s License handbook with further questions.  

Alcohol and Drug Use: Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs; this includes prescription and over-the-counter medications that may alter your perception or driving ability.  

Helmets: Always wear a helmet with head and face protection when riding a motorcycle, bicycle, skateboard, or driving/riding in a golf cart or off-road vehicle. Ensure helmets are the correct size and fit appropriately. Always follow manufacturers’ guidelines for proper usage. Golf Carts should also be equipped with seat belts to prevent drivers or passengers from ejection from the cart.   

Off-Road Vehicles (OHV): Dangers of riding OHVs are real and include overturning, collisions, and occupant ejection. The latest data shows an annual average of more than 700 deaths and an estimated 100,000 emergency department-treated injuries involving OHVs (Schroeder, T. Trend Analysis of NEISS Data. February 2000. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission). 

Pay attention to the surroundings: Do not use electronic devices such as cell phones, earbuds to listen to music or talk on the phone, or your vehicle’s navigation/operating system while driving. These devices can cause significant distractions while driving. This is also important when walking, riding a bicycle, or operating heavy machinery.   

Know Your Fall Risk: Check with your local Hospital or Physician about any change in balance or recent, unexpected falls. A balance screen might be to an excellent place to start to determine if balance is an issue. Remember that most falls happen in the home.  

Know the Symptoms of a Brain Injury: Symptoms can include loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours, persistent headache or headache that worsens, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, clear fluids draining from the nose or ears, inability to awaken from sleep. Other symptoms may appear as short- or long-term memory loss, irrational thinking, inability to make decisive decisions, or a lack of judgment skills.  

Always seek medical attention right away or call 911 if any of the above danger signs occur after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body: 

For more information about head injuries, you can visit:  




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