“I don’t really know what happened next or how much time elapsed before it happened," says Geo Gosling, recalling his traumatic brain injury, or TBI. “I just remember lying in bed and hearing my brother-in-law tell me I was in a bike accident.”
Geo is one of nearly 2.8 million people who sustain a brain injury every year in America. While most people who experience a brain injury are able to quickly return to their daily lives, at least 125,000 people each year are considered permanently disabled as a result of their TBI.
What exactly is a traumatic brain injury?
Our brains are terribly fragile and vulnerable to all sorts of injury. Although brain tissue can be damaged by a variety of things like infections, tumors, or strokes, any injury to the brain from an external force results in a TBI.
Types of traumatic brain injury
- Penetrating head injuries occur when an object, like shrapnel, enters the brain and causes damage in a specific area.
- Closed head injuries occur when there's a blow to the head, which can happen during a fall, car accident, sporting event, or any number of different ways.
Both types of TBI can result in bruised brain tissue, bleeding inside the brain, large or small lacerations in the brain, and nerve damage due to shearing forces. The brain can also experience a number of secondary types of damage, like swelling, fever, seizures, or an imbalance of neurological chemicals.
Coping with a traumatic brain injury
While a TBI can be a life-altering event, the good news is that all TBIs are treatable. With the right help, people with TBI can improve the way their brain functions, and they can often reclaim the portions of their lives that were affected by the injury.
In order to help make sense of his injury, Geo wrote a book about his injury experience called TBI Hell, and for him a TBI may indeed be horrible. At least things sound like they're improving — his second book is called TBI Purgatory.