26% Recreation - mainly sports injury: chiefly boxing but includes
football, soccer, basketball and activities like pole-vaulting
25% Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA)
17% Assault - Post-concussive syndrome.
14% Falls - among the most common are falling sideways by the
elderly, slipping, tripping, postural HTN and obesity.
6% Drug & Alcohol Poisoning The following agents are known
to cause neurological pathology:
Alcohol - cortical atrophy = loss of IQ.
Amphetamine - multiple brain chemistry abnormalities and
neuroimaging shows dopaminergic damage as well as
neurotransmitter transportation anomalies. Included
gliosis leads to plaque formation (“drying of the brain”)
and predisposition to early dementia. Neurotoxic
stimulants induce psychosis that rarely tapers to baseline
after cessation of use. Decrease of inhibitory control
leads users to risk-taking behavior.
Cannabis/Hashish - mild psychosis, apathy, immuno-
suppression related brain tumors, loss of insight (while
believing the opposite), pseudo-philosophy, lowered
testosterone and breast development in males, brain
lesions, decreased ability to store new information,
decreased libido, amotivation, acquired pacifism,
impaired left and right hemispheric brain collaboration
(loss of insight and capacity to connect between cause
CNS depressants (heroin, drugs of the morphine type,
benzodiazepines and barbiturates) - cloud judgment,
impede insight, cell density loss secondary to respiratory
depression (cerebral hypoxia) and deterioration of white
matter that undermines the ability to regulate behavior.
Narcotic overdose always results in permanent brain
Cocaine (any form) - dysrhythmia, chaotic distribution of
blood flow in the brain (hypoxic periods), hypertension,
stroke, permanent damage to cerebral vasculature.
Ecstasy (MDMA) - neurotoxicity includes destruction of
serotonin axon terminal–any regrowth is abnormal–cells
involved in memory retention and problem-solving.
Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB). Similar negative impact
on the brain as other CNS depressants, which is
chemically induced nerve cell pruning.
Hallucinogens - N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT),
dextromethorphan (DXM), LSD, Ayahuasca, Salvia.
Inhalents (glue, correction fluid, white board cleaner,
refrigerant, permanent markers,hair spray, paint thinner,
toluene and other solvents) - brain hypoxia and
demyelination of nerve fibers leads to motor dysfunction
(slowed movement and clumsiness that mimics MS) and
short-term memory impairment (inability to properly
register and store new information = chemically induced
learning disorder), diminished intelligence, damage to
brain’s audio processing. (Kidney damage.is common.)
Ketamine - MRI scans now evidence brain lesions and
atrophy in the frontal parietal and occipital cortices,
caused by abuse of this hypnotic.
Methamphetamine (more potent form of amphetamine:
Peyote (Mescaline), psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”) -
long term users score higher for cluster A scales
(psychoses), especially the increasingly common
schizotypal personality trait with enduring mild psychosis
and seemingly random episodes of disorganized thinking,
paranoia and visual disturbances.
Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) - this potent benzodiazepine
Steroids - brain tumors, shortened life-span, irreversible
male pattern baldness. MALES: testicular atrophy,
gynecomastia (breast development). FEMALES: coarse
skin, clitorus enlargement, excessive body hair, voice
Tobacco - while stimulating the brain, the toxic effects of
the 7,000 chemicals in tobacco cause free radical
damage in brain tissue. Studies now link macular
degeneration with tobacco product use. Snuff and
chewing tobacco are less toxic but still associated with
Stimulants (Rx) - same as amphetamines if not prescribed
in lower therapeutic doses.
4% Motorcycle Accident (MCA)
3% Cycling - helmets reduce the severity of brain damage but do
not prevent TBI.
3% Shaken Infant - following a subdural hematoma and brain
swelling, delayed development, visual impairment, motor
dysfunction and a variety of cognitive difficulties typically
ensue shaken impact syndrome. While the brain
compensates for loss of brain cells due to destruction best
before the age of three–providing the abuse ceases–scar
tissue cells from inflammation predisposes the individual to
early dementia in later life.
2% Toxic Fumes - working with solvents, paint, and poorly
ventilated garages, where carbon monoxide fumes
concentrate. See “Inhalents” for a brief list of consequences.
?% The following are not well reported: general anesthesia (depressed metabolic rate of oxygen in the brain and
neuronal apoptosis; estimated 21 million/yr in a pop of 319
million = 6.58%); epilepsy also a sequela of TBI; brain
tumors; stroke (CVA); brain aneurysm; encephalopathy,
including hepatic encephalopathy; non-fatal myocardial
infarction (MI); neurological disease (Alzheimer’s);
attempted suicide; radiation from CT scans and X-rays
(more than one every 2-3 years); survivors of choking,
drowning, suffocation and strangulation; hyperthermia (heat
stroke) & hypothermia; neuroleptic medication (high doses
in chronic use cause brain shrinkage); obstructive sleep
apnea (SA) has been shown to cause progressive loss of
“gray matter” (cerebral cortex) that results in poor memory,
emotional disturbances and increased cardiovascular
disturbances. Use of a CPAP device can reverse most of
the damage; severe asthma attack, electric shock with loss
of consciousness; prolonged exposure to high altitude; blood
loss, including internal hemorrhage.
Other unknown causes are animal related; hypoxia/anoxia
at birth; cardiac arrest (est. 735,000/yr = 0.3%); parental
abuse, such as striking a child's head.
ER Visits: 1.4 million
Concussion: > 75%
Cost: 76.5 billion
Sources: Data averaged and compiled from meta-analysis of published literature by
U.S. National Library of Medicine, CDC and reporting US governments agencies. The
figures are averaged, since non-traumatic brain injuries herein, such as poisoning, are
combined with the traumatic type (TBI). Males are approximately twice as likely to
suffer brain injury after birth.