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.

brain injury
Last Updated: September 14, 2020

What Is 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.

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Traumatic Brain Injury Definition

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.

What Is Traumatic Brain Injury?

As per the definition of traumatic brain injury above, we can therefore say that a traumatic brain injury occurs when the normal function of the brain is disrupted by a blow to the head or some other means of penetration of the brain.

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.

Traumatic Brain Injury
Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries

Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries

There are two types of traumatic brain injury: closed or non-penetrating, and open or penetrating.

  1. A closed or non-penetrating brain injury arises from some impact or jolt where the brain is not lacerated or punctured by another object.
  2. A penetrating brain injury arises when an object such as a skull fragment or metal shard pierces the skull and injures the brain.

 

Of course, with injuries to the brain, the definitions are not always that simple. So, below we will answer some common questions about traumatic brain injuries

What is Another Name for Traumatic Brain Injury?

You will sometimes see medical professionals and media reports refer to brain injury as a head injury, serious head injury, brain or head trauma. In addition, the acronym TBI is sometimes used as a shortened form of traumatic brain injury.

What is a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury?

In a sense, all brain injuries are severe. As the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states, even a moderate traumatic brain injury can “lead to a lifetime of physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral changes.”

The Mayo Clinic cites three levels of traumatic brain injuries – mild, moderate, and severe. It cautions that you should contact a health professional even in cases of assumed mild brain injury. Every head injury is different (the brain is our most complex organ), so there isn’t a clearly definable scale that points to mild, moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries.

However, diagnosticians often use a system called the Glasgow Coma Scale(GCS), and any GCS score of 8 or less is termed a severe traumatic brain injury.

Often when we receive a blow to the head, we might not know that we have received a traumatic brain injury. Perhaps it is a mild TBI, such as a concussion, but there is still the risk of adverse effects occurring long after the original incident has occurred.

This is sometimes termed post traumatic brain injury. The Mayo Clinic also points to post-concussion syndrome, where several symptoms like headaches and dizziness can persist for weeks after the initial injury was sustained.

What is a Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury?

As we explained above, moderate is one of the three levels of traumatic brain injury. The term ‘moderate’ is perhaps a little bit misleading because this still represents a serious injury.

What is a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury?

A mild brain injury is less severe than a severe brain injury or a moderate one, but as the experts point out, any kind of traumatic head injury is an injury and in that way severe.

Is a Concussion a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Put simply, yes. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. Although someone can get a concussion in a variety of ways, they are typically caused by a blow to the head (often seen in contact sports), a concussion can affect brain function.

While most people fully recover from a concussion and it is termed as a mild traumatic brain injury, it’s still very serious. Indeed, we are still learning about the effects of even minor concussions later in life.

Concussions symptoms don’t always appear right away, so consult a health professional if you have received any kind of blow to the head.

Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury Causes

Traumatic Brain Injury Causes

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. 

We are still learning about the cause and effect of traumatic brain injuries. If you look at, for example, the high-profile case of brain injuries in NFL players, you can see that a lot of progress has been made to understand both the long and short-term effect of head injuries. But it’s also clear that a lot more research needs to go into the cause of brain injuries.

Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery Statistics

According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, outcomes for TBI patients vary depending on the level of injury sustained.

  • The vast majority of patients with mild TBI will make a full recovery. They might still suffer minor effects like headaches and dizziness, but these see a gradual improvement.
  • For patients with moderate TBI, 60% make a positive recovery, 25% will have a moderate degree of disability, and 7-10% will die or be in a vegetative state.
  • For patients with severe TBI, up to 33% will have a positive outcome (near to full recovery), moderate to severe disability occurs in about 18% of patients, 33% of patients will die, and the rest will remain in a vegetative state.

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Traumatic Brain Injury Recovery Stages

Every brain injury is different, and people suffering from TBIs will have different experiences of recovery.  However, there are some scientific ways of measuring the recovery stages. One such measure is the Rancho Los Amigos Level of Cognitive Functioning

There are 10 different stages of RLCF, and the general rule of thumb is that the speed at which a person goes through each stage can help predict the time and level of recovery.

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.

Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms

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
  • Headache
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Problems related to speaking
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Dizziness
  • 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
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

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
  • Seizures
  • Dilation of the pupils
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
  • Coma
  • 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
  • Seizures
  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Drowsiness
  • 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.

Traumatic Brain Injury Symptom Years Later

Many of the symptoms of TBI can fail to appear for several years. For instance, the Mayo Clinic points out that seizures can occur years after the initial incident that caused the brain injury. You will see in many of studies of professional football players and boxers that brain injuries might not be apparent until later in life, and one of the reasons for this is symptom delay. Below we list many other delayed brain injury symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Confusion, dizziness 
  • Headaches
  • Nausea, vomiting 
  • Fatigue, drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of balance
  • Sensory issues
  • Mood swings
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Noise and light sensitivity

As you can see by the above list, these are common symptoms that could also be the result of another non-serious health issue. But, as with all seemingly minor health issues, it is advisable to contact a doctor when there is a combination of the symptoms above or when the symptoms persist.

Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic Brain Injury Long Term Effects

Traumatic Brain Injury Long Term Effects

Unfortunately, traumatic brain injury patients can have serious issues in the long term. TBI is a significant clinical problem, and there is a limit to what healthcare professionals can do about it. 

Yes treatment of brain injuries is constantly improving and evolving, but brains are still one of the most complex areas in the field of medicine. In that respect, it is difficult to point to specific effects in the short, medium, and long term. As such, many problems associated with injuries to the brain can become chronic, i.e. they can last for years and never be cured. 

As we now know, TBIs are linked to the development of diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s in later life. A brain injury could lead to a long list of serious adverse health effects, or none at all. In cases of mild traumatic brain injury, long term problems are rare, but they can still appear. 

Below we list some of the more common long term effects:

  • Headaches
  • Dizzy spells
  • Seizures
  • Loss of balance
  • Brain diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia)
  • Memory loss
  • Depression
  • Mental health issues

Traumatic Brain Injury in Children

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
  • Seizures
  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Drowsiness
  • 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.

Traumatic Brain Injury Long Term Effects

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:

  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Reasoning
  • Judgment
  • Attention
  • Problem-solving
  • Multitasking
  • Organization
  • Planning
  • Decision-making
  • 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.

Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer

Traumatic brain injuries can happen for a wide variety of reasons, some of which might be down to negligence on the part of an employer, business or individual. 

Many lawyers and law firms will specialize in dealing with brain injury lawsuits, but it is important to choose those with the experience and know-how to try those types of personal injury cases. 

Select Justice can help you connect with the right type of brain injury attorney, so read the details below and see if you qualify for a free evaluation.

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.

Fill out this short form with your contact details and a brief description of your injury.

Please make sure to have relevant documents available. Someone from our team will follow up with you as soon as possible.

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.

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