UK study sheds light on TBI risk factors

Car crashes are one of the most common causes of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Oftentimes, these injuries can be life-changing. That is why safety organizations and researchers are making it a priority to learn more about them – and find ways to prevent them.

A new study looked into some of the factors that lead to serious head injuries. While this study was conducted in the United Kingdom, the findings translate to the risk of collisions around the world and right here in Tennessee.

What did the study find?

Imperial College London conducted a study of over 2,000 collisions on the United Kingdom’s roads to determine which kinds of collisions frequently resulted in the most severe head injuries. Researchers found that the risk of severe injury generally depended on three factors:

  • The road user: As one might expect, the most vulnerable road users faced the highest risk of suffering a head injury. This includes pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. Wearing helmets helps to reduce the risk for cyclists and motorcyclists, but a collision still puts these road users at risk.
  • Changes in speed upon impact: The greater the change in speed when the collision occurs, the more severe the risk of a head injury. For example, if a crash occurs when one driver is going roughly 70 miles per hour on a Tennessee highway, the risk of a TBI would be greater than a driver going roughly 40 miles per hour on a county road upon impact. This is why speeding is a much bigger risk than many people consider.
  • The direction of the impact: The study found that side-impact collisions often resulted in more serious head injuries. This is likely because there is no headrest on either side of the head to stop the neck and head from jerking violently upon impact. Glass shattering and acting as projectiles could be another reason this type of collision involves a greater risk of head injury.

When faced with the increasing rate of distracted drivers on the road, staying safe is a priority. Of course, you cannot control another driver’s actions, but being aware of these three risks can help you stay defensive behind the wheel.

The most important thing? Seeking medical care.

Even if a collision is minor, it is critical to seek medical care as soon as possible afterward. Immediate medical care can help treat injuries and even detect injuries you might not be aware of right after the crash – which is often the case with TBIs.

The longer concussions or any other TBIs are left untreated, the more severe the risks and more severe complications individuals could face. After any kind of crash, watching for the symptoms of a TBI and obtaining treatment can make a big difference.

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