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Cranioencephalic Trauma. The third leading cause of death in Mexico.

Posted on 10-03-2017

LOS CABOS, B.C.S. – According to data from the Revista Mexicana de Neurociencia (Mexican Journal of Neuroscience); "worldwide, 1.2 million people die each year from Cranioencephalic Trauma (also Traumatic Brain Injury; TBI) and between 20 and 50 million suffer non-fatal trauma." More than 90% of deaths attributed to TBI occur in countries where few preventive measures are taken and where healthcare systems are unprepared to cope with the timely diagnosis and treatment.

Cranioencephalic traumatism (TBI), according to the National Head Injury Foundation, is defined as "brain damage, non-degenerative in nature, caused by an external force, which can cause a decrease or alteration of consciousness, resulting in Impairment of functioning of cognitive and physical abilities ". It is brain damage resulting from an impact or a blow that alters and/or impairs our physical and cognitive capacities, such as attention, perception, memory, problem-solving ability, comprehension, etc.

The most common causes of TBI are accidents that occur at work, at home, outdoors, or when participating in a sport. Other causes are falls, physical, and traffic accidents. Traffic accidents are responsible for 42 cases at this time. In Mexico, TBI is the third cause of death, with a rate of 38.8 per 100 thousand most common in men from ages 15 to 45.

Even though most cranial injuries resulting from falls, work-related accidents or while playing a sport are minor injuries, Dr. Raúl Morgado, Neurosurgeon of HOSPITEN Los Cabos says, "learning to recognize a possible serious brain injury may provide an opportunity to receive prompt attention."

As Dr. Morgado points out, some of the warning signs that may indicate a serious TBI are: a constant headache that increases in intensity and usually does not subside while using common analgesics; loss of consciousness; vomiting more than three times in 24 hours while having a headache; heart rate less than 60 beats per minute; the inability to move an extremity; difficulty speaking; drowsiness; behaving abnormally; coordination difficulty; some nasal secretions in which water drops appear from the nose; visible injuries such as fractures and wounds. If experiencing one or more of these symptoms a person should immediately call the emergency service and /or go to a hospital that has a neurosurgery service.

First aid can be administered while waiting for emergency medical care. Always ensure that the injured person is breathing and that circulation is normal. If necessary, start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). If the person is unconscious, stabilize the head and neck while avoiding movement. If there is bleeding press firmly on the wound with a clean cloth. Make sure that if the person is vomiting that you lay them on their side so they do not suffocate. It is very important to note the injured party should not be moved and if he/she is wearing a helmet, do not try to remove it. Finally, stay close to the patient while waiting for the emergency services to arrive.

According to the HOSPITEN Neurosurgeon, there are sometimes no immediate symptoms suggestive of severe cranial injury, however, they may appear later. One of the signs that can indicate inflammation of the brain and/or a possible cerebrovascular issue is the Babinski Reflection. It is a physical reaction that occurs after firmly rubbing the sole of the foot. In this method, to indicate an inflammation of the brain in children up to two years of age, you would contract the fingers inwards. In children older than two years and adults you would hyperextend the fingers (like a fan). The result would be upward movement in the big toe.