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What Sport is #1 for Head Injuries?

Most people would think that football would be the number one sports-related head injury, but in actuality, bicycle accidents account for far more traumatic brain injuries each year.  Riding without a helmet can be hazardous to your health.  The reason bicycle riding accounts for more head injuries than football is simply that there more people ride bikes than play football.  Nearly 1 out of 5 sports-related head injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2009 were due to bicycle accidents. Football accounted for 1 out of 10 and baseball was 1 out of 12.

Cycling was also the leading cause of sports-related head injuries in children under 14 and were about double the number related to football.  Part of the reason is that bicycling is so common.  We often don’t think of biking as a serious cause for injury so we don’t take precautions like wearing a helmet.  Bicyclists are at high risk of colliding with motor vehicles.  When riders don’t wear helmets, such collisions frequently result in serious head injuries. In 2009 about 90 percent of bicyclists killed in the United States were not wearing helmets.  A majority of them were middle-aged men.

The bottom line is that bike accidents contribute to more sports-related head injuries than any other activity.

People with a brain injury frequently report visual problems such as seeing words in print run together, have intermittent blurring when reading, and objects that are known to be stationary seem to be moving. The floor may appear tilted and they may have significant difficulties with balance and spatial orientation when in crowded moving environments. Frequently, persons reporting these symptoms to eye care professionals (optometrists and ophthalmologists) have been told that their problems are not in their eyes and that their eyes appear to be healthy.  The reason for this is that vision is actually based in the brain and not in the eyes.  This is why a brain injury is causing all of these vision problems.

Although there are many visual problems that arise from brain injury and stroke, three are more devastating and impairing than the rest. These are visual field loss, persistent double vision, and visual / balance disorders.

Double vision is among the most disorienting and devastating vision disorders. People suffering from double vision will often times go to great lengths to alleviate the double image because it is so bothersome. Many will actually even patch, or cover an eye, thereby eliminating the vision from one eye just to get rid of their double vision. Double vision is caused when the two eyes do not align, or work together and one eye actually turns out, in, up, or down compared to the fellow eye. The disorientation from double vision will frequently trigger dizziness and balance problems.

Brain injury is often accompanied by increased light sensitivity and general inability to tolerate normal glare. The problem seems to be an inability of the brain to adjust to various levels of brightness. It is as if one had a radio and the volume control was broken and you could not make the adjustments you normally do to control loudness.

Many of these problems, visual in nature, can be solved through a program of vision therapy that enables the individual regain skills that were damaged.