Traumatic Brain Injury 101

I was in the passenger seat when the vehicle slid off the road and rolled 6 times down an embankment, I woke up bleeding and dizzy but knowing I had to hike back up that hill to get help. The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital. It was November 6, 2011 and I was a 17 year old senior in high school. I wake up a lot of mornings with that event being my last memory and with absolutely no recollection of what has happened since then. Sometimes my memory resets itself after a day or so, and sometimes I am stuck in November for months at a time. I still don’t know exactly why this happens, but I do know my moderate TBI resulted in a slowing in my frontal lobe and an atypical seizure disorder.

Recent statistics say that between 3.2 and 5.3 million Americans are living with disabilities resulting from traumatic brain injury (TBI).

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

There are two types of acquired brain injury: traumatic and non-traumatic.  A traumatic brain injury (TBI) consists of an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force. Traumatic impact injuries can be defined as closed (or non-penetrating) or open (penetrating).  Examples of this type of brain injury include falls, motor vehicle accidents, and sports related injuries.  A non-traumatic brain injury is an alteration in brain function or pathology caused by an internal force.  Examples of this type of injury include stroke, infectious disease, and drug overdose.

What Happens Following a Brain Injury?

Immediately following a brain injury, two things occur according to the Brain Injury Association of America:

  • Brain tissue reacts to the trauma from the injury with a series of biochemical and other physiological responses. Substances that once were housed safely within these cells now flood the brain, further damaging and destroying brain cells in what is called secondary cell death.
  • Depending on the severity of brain injury, effects may include temporary loss of consciousness or coma, respiratory (breathing) problems, and/or damaged motor functions.

What Impacts Recovery?

A few important things to remember about brain injury are that no two brain injuries are the same and the effects are complex and vary across individuals.  For example, individuals with a previous psychiatric history are more likely to have ongoing post concussive symptoms compared to individuals without such a history.  Additionally, individuals with previous head injuries are more likely to experience increased symptoms and are at greater-risk for ongoing challenges.  Moreover, there is growing research examining the role of sex and gender in the symptoms and recovery associated with head injury.  In the recent article “Sex, Gender, and Traumatic Brain Injury” from “The Challenge” (published by the Brain Injury Association of America), the following sex differences were highlighted for individuals suffering a sports-related brain injury:

  • In young adults who sustain a concussion, females expressed a greater intention to report their injury compared to men.
  • Men more often exhibit on-field markers of injury such as amnesia and disorientation.
  • Females more frequently report headache, drowsiness, and nausea/vomiting.


The Krempels Center here in the Seacoast Area is committed to helping those in our community who have experienced a traumatic brain injury to live their new life in recovery.  Staff at PNC are excited to participate in the Memorial Day 5K Road Race (“We Run for Brain Injury”) on May 26th, 2019 where all proceeds go directly to the Krempels Center.

The Brain Injury Association of America – is the country’s oldest and largest nationwide brain injury advocacy organization whose mission is to advance awareness, research, treatment, and education and to improve the quality of life for all people affected by brain injury.

The Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire – it is the only state-wide organization in New Hampshire dedicated to brain injury and stroke support, prevention, education, and advocacy for survivors and caregivers.