Traumatic Brain Injury: what you need to know Published March 7, 2013 By Capt. Kimberly Capasso 22nd Medical Group MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Traumatic brain injury is a growing public health issue in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually and throughout the last decade, emergency room visits from sports and recreation related TBIs, including concussions, among children and adolescents increased by 60 percent. A TBI can be caused by a blow or jolt to the head resulting in a disruption of the normal function of the brain. The majority of TBIs that occur each year are classified as concussions. Concussions are considered a mild type of traumatic brain injury because they are usually not life threatening, but still need to be taken very seriously and most occur without any loss of consciousness. It is important that we recognize the signs and symptoms of TBI to allow for quick response and treatment if necessary. Symptoms can present in varying forms of physical, cognitive, social, emotional and behavioral effects. Common symptoms to look for include difficulty concentrating, thinking or remembering new information, headache, blurry vision, nausea or vomiting, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual. If you or a family member takes part in high risk activities, ensure you familiarize yourself with all symptoms prior to a potentially dangerous event. When it comes to the active duty military population, blasts are the most common cause of TBI. The DoD has taken many measures to help quickly identify and provide necessary treatment to individuals who have sustained brain injuries. Familiarization training on processes following a blast injury has become mandatory for pre deployment and supervisor training, in both medical and nonmedical fields. For those interested, the Center for Disease Control website offers "Heads Up," a free online course available to coaches, parents, and others helping to keep athletes safe from concussion. Heads Up will help you understand a concussion and the potential consequences of this injury, recognize concussion signs and symptoms and how to respond, learn about steps for returning to activity (play and school) after a concussion, and focus on prevention and preparedness to help keep athletes safe season-to-season. For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/TraumaticBrainInjury.