Traumatic Brain Injuries
A traumatic brain injury is a serious, sometimes deadly medical condition that can arise naturally or be inflicted upon a victim through negligence or recklessness.
What Is A Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury is a type of acquired brain injury that results from a violent impact or sudden jolt that affects the brain.
Every year there are millions of people in America who experience brain injuries. Depending on the severity of the injury the brain trauma can lead to temporary or permanent impaired brain function.
Like any other Acquired Brain Injury, the Brain Injury Association of America states that it isn’t hereditary, congenital, degenerative, or caused by the trauma of birth.
Trauma to the brain is always a difficult diagnosis. One of the most dangerous aspects of brain injuries is that a victim may not realize that they are injured and symptoms may not appear until days or weeks after the injury.
Types and Causes of Brain Injuries
There are two types of traumatic brain injury: closed or non-penetrating, and open or penetrating. A closed or non-penetrating brain injury arises from some impact or jolt where the brain is not lacerated or punctured by another object. By contrast, a penetrating brain injury arises when an object such as a skull fragment or metal shard pierces the skull and injures the brain.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) recorded approximately 2.87 million emergency department visits, hospitalizations related to traumatic brain injury, including over 837,000 of these health events among children. The CDC also noted 56,800 traumatic brain injury deaths in 2014. Of those, 4% were in children.
Two of the three most common mechanisms of receiving a Traumatic Brain Injury that resulted in death were unintentional falls and motor vehicle crashes. These two causes make up a combined 46.8% of all traumatic brain injury deaths.
Traumatic brain injury can be caused by other factors including explosive blasts, workplace injuries, domestic violence, contact sport impacts, or any situation in which the head is struck by another person or object.
Symptoms And Treatments For A Traumatic Brain Injury
Although all traumatic brain injuries are cause for intense concern, medically they fall into two major categories: mild traumatic brain injury and severe traumatic brain injuries. Mild traumatic brain injury is mostly damage that the brain can recover from and therefore the effects may be temporary.
Severe traumatic brain injury arises from brain tissue that has been bruised, torn, lacerated, or in some way physically damaged. Severe traumatic brain injury can result in long-term disabilities and eventually death. Symptoms for either a mild or severe traumatic brain injury may show up as soon as a few hours after the event or as late as a few days after the event.
It is recommended that a doctor or family physician be alerted if any traumatic brain injury symptoms begin to appear following a blow or impact to the brain. Symptoms which can indicate a mild traumatic brain injury include:
- Loss of consciousness for up to a few minutes
- Feeling dazed, confused, or disoriented
- Problems related to speaking
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sleeping more than usual
- Loss of balance
- Sensory problems, including blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth, or changes in the ability to smell
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Memory or concentration problems
- Mood swings
Severe traumatic brain injuries can present with any of the symptoms of mild injury, as well as these additional symptoms:
- Loss of consciousness for periods up to several hours
- Persistent headaches that intensify over time
- Repeated Vomiting
- Dilation of the pupils
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Weakness or numbness in the fingers and toes
- Loss of coordination
- Profound confusion
- Sudden agitation or combativeness
- Slurred speech
Infants and young children with traumatic brain injuries might not be able to communicate their symptoms. In this case, the Mayo Clinic has suggested the following list of potential signs of pediatric traumatic brain injury:
- Changes in eating or nursing habits
- Unusual or easy irritability
- Persistent crying and inability to be consoled
- Change in their ability to pay attention
- Changes in sleep habits
- Sad or depressed mood
- Loss of interest in favorite toys or activities
This is by no means a complete list of symptoms and individuals who have suffered a blow to the head should seek medical attention even if they do not have any of the symptoms listed.
What Can Happen If A Traumatic Brain Injury Isn’t Treated
A traumatic brain injury can cause severe changes to an individual and due to the complexity of the brain, there is no end to the ways that traumatic brain injury can change that individual’s life. If the damage is severe enough, the patient may enter a vegetative state, coma, or even experience brain death.
Some permanent physical complications can include recurrent seizures known as post-traumatic epilepsy. Hydrocephalus can develop, where cerebrospinal fluid builds up in the skull, increasing pressure and swelling in the brain.
Even a simple infection resulting from a traumatic brain injury can endanger the patient’s life. Other complications resulting from injury to the cranial stem can include paralysis of facial muscles, loss of the senses, and a variety of cognitive issues including difficulty with:
- Beginning or completing tasks
- Understanding or utilizing speech or writing
- Organizing thoughts and ideas
- Turn taking or topic selection in conversations
- Comprehending changes in tone, pitch or emphasis to express subtle differences
- Understanding nonverbal signals
- Using the muscles needed to form words (dysarthria)
In addition to this, traumatic brain injury also leads to its own unique degenerative neural conditions. Traumatic brain injury has been linked to an increase in traditional dementias including Alzheimer’s, but it can also lead to dementia pugilistica. Dementia pugilistica is a degenerative brain disorder most often associated with blows to the head which presents with symptoms of dementia and movement issues.
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What Can Be Done For Victims With A Traumatic Brain Injury
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes, there is nothing that can be done for victims of traumatic brain injuries to undo the original damage to the brain. What doctors can do is try to stabilize the traumatic brain injury as rapidly as possible to prevent any of the devastating complications that arise from traumatic brain injury.
For some individuals, however, their injuries will be too severe to be stabilized and they may be inflicted with lifelong disability or even death. For those individuals, medical bills may never end and they may need to reduce the number of hours they work. In the most extreme cases, individuals may no longer be able to perform their duties as expected.
In these cases, a legal case may be appropriate in order to be compensated for the lifelong damages they will sustain if their injury is decided to have come from the negligence or recklessness of another.
When is it Necessary to Contact a Lawyer
Many people assume that their insurance company will give them protection for a traumatic brain injury. However, many TBI claims are rejected by insurance companies or result in a settlement well below what the victim is entitled to. In addition, victims of traumatic brain injuries will typically require a temporary or permanent leave from work and may be unable to participate in everyday activities, resulting in a loss of income and quality of life.
Approximately seventeen out of every 100,000 traumatic brain injuries in the United States are fatal; in this case, the victim’s family will be emotionally compromised and without a critical source of income. The only way to fight a rejected insurance claim and receive fair compensation for a severe or fatal traumatic brain injury resulting from an accident is to hire a brain injury lawyer to represent your case.
What Actions to Take if You Want to Make A Claim?
If you or someone you know has suffered a traumatic brain injury the first step is getting in contact with with a skilled injury attorney to discuss your case. Select Justice can help you fight back.
We have a number of experienced brain injury lawyers in our network, and we can connect you with the legal counsel you need to receive personal advice, fight back, and create a path toward gaining compensation for your brain injury.
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