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Traumatic brain injury top cause of death among Ghana’s youth, says paediatric surgeon

Traumatic brain injury, which is also known as the "silent epidemic", causes damage to brain functions as a result of the impact of the brain hitting the skull post-accident

Paediatric neurosurgeon Dr Teddy Totimeh has revealed that traumatic brain injury is the top cause of death among people of between the ages of 15 and 45 in Ghana.

Traumatic brain injury, which is also known as the ‘silent epidemic’, causes damage to brain functions as a result of the impact of the brain hitting the skull post-accident, resulting in stretched connections within the brain’s units.

According to Dr Totimeh, many sufferers of this injury show no signs and are usually unaware of their condition.

Speaking on the Asaase Breakfast Show, he said, “In Ghana, traumatic brain injury is the top cause of death for the ages between 15 and 45. So it’s motorbike accidents, car accidents and pedestrian accidents.”

“If you were to drive through a typical city area, you’d see how many people are walking around and how many cars are moving around, and it’s more likely to hit a pedestrian than another car.” Dr Totimeh added.

“So, the thing is that, in Ghana, the traumatic brain injury would be more severe than in a place like America because the likelihood of a motorbike pedestrian collision is higher,” he added.

Dr. Totimeh also mentioned that the brain lacks sufficient cushioning for sudden deceleration during an accident, saying, “Basically, our brains are designed such that they sit in the skull, and everything is fine. They sit in a cushion of water; the water is very dense and makes the brain 25 times lighter than it should be.”

“So, it is very calmly sorted out for walking around, shaking your head, but nothing has prepared us of the speed of a car and the sudden deceleration that happens when you have an accident,” Dr Totimeh added.

He also revealed a connection between traumatic brain injury and mental health, particularly the risk of suicidal thoughts. “We know that after dealing with such difficulties it can manifest in mental health situations.”

“One of the things that was very striking about traumatic brain injury and American football was the tendency to suicides …” Dr Totimeh said.

Reporting by  Elizabeth Yeboah Akyemaa in Accra

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