What is a Brain Injury?

Eric A. Roy, a Clinical Psychologist, professor and director of the Centre for Habilitation Education and Research at Ontario’s University of Waterloo, says “the most common brain injuries in our society are sustained from a blow to the head. Around 700,000 people in North America suffer traumatic head injuries each year, and between 70,000 and 90,000 are left permanently disabled.”

Traumatic brain injuries fall under the broader classification of head injuries, which include anything from a facial cut while shaving to a fractured skull. A damaged brain is indicated by a loss of consciousness. Researchers don’t yet understand the reason for loss of consciousness, but they do know that if you pass out, even for a moment, it is an indication that your brain has been affected. Other indicators are: confusion about time, date, and location, and/or if you can’t remember the events surrounding your injury.  Researchers believe that increased pressure on the brain stem (from edema or swelling) probably accounts for the respiratory system slowing or temporarily stopping. Brain injury victims will initially have various symptoms including reduced pulse rates, pale skin, sweating, and lowered blood pressure. When or if they return to consciousness, they might experience dizziness, nausea, and/or a dull and restless feeling. They might have headaches and can be nervous for several days, weeks, or even years after the injury. Brain injuries can also permanently damage nerve tissue, possibly resulting in amnesia, irritability, fatigue, memory impairment, and the list goes on.

The injury can also occur from a lack of oxygen (like drowning), or as a result of a lack of blood supplied to the brain (perhaps following a cardiac arrest). Most often, traumatic brain injuries result from blow to the head, which can be from a fall off a bicycle or a crash while skiing or getting thrown from a rolling vehicle.

Recoveries from brain injury vary from person to person, but there are certain things patients can do to help themselves recover. Be passionate about recovery; educate yourself; exercise; and laugh at all challenges faced. Gain energy from those who want to help. It’s a long and unenviable road, but the destination is worth the journey.


In the spring of 1990 Allan Boss was in a motor vehicle accident. He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. The attending neurosurgeon informed his family that he would never walk again or talk again. He went on to achieve three university degrees, has written/edited four published books, has run four marathons, and is currently writing a non-fiction book about his recovery.

Want to learn more? Email info@allanboss.ca  with the subject Send Me the Free Outline to his book, The Seven Steps to Healing your Brain.


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