Warning signs of a Traumatic Brain Injury

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- More than 3 million children and adults sustain a brain injury each year, according to the SwedishAmerican Hospital. September is Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month, so one local woman is working toward raising awareness after unknowingly sustaining a Traumatic Brain Injury.

74-year-old Carole Carbone is a retired teacher from Rockford. Carbone quickly ended up at the SwedishAmerican's Emergency Department in August after she was having issues with confusion.

"My husband started saying you walk funny and you talk funny. I was tripping and stumbling over my feet, so I thought it was my shoes you know, never me of course," says Carole Carbone who was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury.

Carbone says she had fallen a couple times and hit her head on the trunk of her car about a month prior, but didn't think it was serious.

"I didn't black out, I didn't even feel dizzy. People were saying to me you're acting a little funny," says Carbone.

Carbone finally went to the doctor to find out she had a Traumatic Brain Injury and needed to undergo a craniotomy the next day.

"I thought people who played football, people who rode motorcycles without helmets, they would get traumatic brain injuries, not me," says Carbone.

"It is common because the type of injury that the brain is building up after the initial incident, like you're walking gets affected, then you're bumping into more and more things, and they're really re-injuring the brain," says SwedishAmerican Neurosurgeon, Dr. Gayatri Sonti.

Dr. Sonti urges people to listen to our loved ones if they say we are acting different and get checked out.

"If a person didn't make it to the hospital, her neurological deficits would be permanent and irreversible," says Dr. Sonti.

"It made me think what do I want to do with the rest of my life considering that it might have been cut short," says Carbone.

Dr. Sonti says typically, mild brain injuries can heal by themselves with rest and hydration. Once it becomes a repeated occurrence, that's when it can become severe like in Carbone’s case.

Dr. Sonti and Carbone are working toward stressing the importance of recognizing brain injuries. A few of the symptoms include headaches, neck pain, nausea, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and tiredness. If we bump our head at all and begin to feel these symptoms, Dr. Sonti urges people to get checked out.