MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It's a scary prospect - that a seemingly minor injury from your past could cause serious psychological problems in your future.
Think back to the last time you or your children fell. Did they hit their head? If the blow was harsh enough, it could one day lead to serious neurological problems.
Jason Stanley of Montgomery admits that he's the not the man he was five years ago.
"Anxiety, aggression, I dealt with depression really bad," he told us. "I could wake up and just be so bummed out about anything and everything"
It started in 2007. Jason was a student at Auburn University and was assaulted off campus.
"I fell back and my head hit the concrete," he recalls.
But what at first appeared to be just some cuts to the head ended up being something much more serious.
It's the same realization many are coming to in the NFL - that head injuries likely have longer-lasting implications than anyone knew. The healthcare field calls them traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs.
"The brain can slosh back and forth in the skull and it's protected within the skull," explained Montgomery attorney Mike Andrews. "But at a certain level, that impact with the skull becomes injurious."
Andrews specializes in brain trauma cases for the Beasley-Allen law firm. He says his clients experience symptoms ranging from insomnia and depression to serious behavior and mood disorders.
[WEB EXTRA: Head injury information from Beasley-Allen law firm]
"The brain not only controls things like our breathing, our speech and our balance, it also controls our personality and who we are."
For Jason, the psychological affects didn't show up until months after the assault. And he says depression is still a constant battle. But it's a battle that he manages.
He has since graduated from Auburn and now speaks publicly, raising awareness about TBI.
"It's been a roller coaster, but you've got to be optimistic about it," he said. "You've got to live every day and enjoy it and keep striving to better yourself."
So what kind of injuries can lead to brain trauma? Experts say they can be anything from a tackle on the football field to a car accident to simply falling off a bicycle or playground equipment.
That's why it's so important to seek treatment for head injuries and involve the right medical professionals.
"The first 24 hours following a head injury is the most important time," Andrews said.
He recommends informing the doctor that you are concerned about brain trauma and ask that specialists be called in. You can even ask the hospital to contact the Alabama Head Injury Foundation, which has experts who know what to look for TBI cases.
When it comes to preventing head injuries, it's not always possible. But you can make injuries less likely.
First, make sure you have the proper safety equipment on your vehicle. Seatbelts and front & side air bags can prevent your head from hitting hard metal segments of your vehicle. For children, it's also crucial that child safety seats and booster seats be used properly.
And always wear a helmet when biking or blading. Here's more information to make sure you get the right fit from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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