Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are serious and the results can be very widespread and harmful. Unfortunately, these injuries also can lead to complicated cases from a legal standpoint, simply because they are so challenging to diagnose and describe. You need an experienced lawyer if you wish to effectively represent your injury and litigate your catastrophic injury case
Our team would be happy to answer your questions and to tell you more about your options and how we can build a strong case for you from day one.
Simply put, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is any injury to the head/brain that results in a disruption of normal brain functioning. Medically speaking, TBIs range in severity from mild to severe, but all TBIs are serious and necessitate medical attention. Mild TBI symptoms might include brief loss of consciousness, confusion, disorientation, dizziness, and other changes in mental state; severe symptoms can include prolonged loss of consciousness or coma, severe reduction in cognitive functioning, and death.
Some examples of types of traumatic brain injuries include:
- Concussions: Many people do not realize that concussions are actually considered traumatic brain injuries. Though they are classified as mild TBIs, concussions can lead to a number of complications, such as unconsciousness, confusion, nausea, memory loss, and other problems. If you suffer a blow to the head or believe you have sustained a concussion, seek medical attention.
- Coup-Contrecoup Injuries: A coup-contrecoup injury is one in which the force of a blow is so great, it causes the brain to hit the opposing inside wall of the skull, resulting in two injury points: one at the point of impact and one where the brain contacts the skull. Coup-contrecoup brain injuries often result from car accidents, falls, and other violent accidents/events.
- Diffuse Axonal Injuries: When the force of impact causes the brain to move extremely violently, the brain stem may be unable to keep up. This causes tears—ranging from microscopic to substantial in size—in the connections of the brain, known as a diffuse axonal injury. The size and location of these tears will play a large role in the severity of the injury, as well as its long-term impacts.
- Contusions: A brain contusion is simply bleeding that occurs under the skin on the brain. Often, brain contusions occur alongside other TBIs, such as concussions. While they are considered relatively mild, they may not stop bleeding on their own. This could necessitate surgical removal.
- Penetrating Injuries: A penetrating brain injury is a very severe and often fatal type of TBI. As the name suggests, these occur when an outside object penetrates the skull and/or brain, resulting in severe hemorrhaging and damage.
Signs & Symptoms of a Brain Injury
The signs of a traumatic brain injury can take weeks or even months to appear after the accident. Other symptoms are immediate. If you were hurt in an accident or hit your head, even if you do not show immediate signs of distress, you should receive emergency medical attention. Head injuries are very serious and can be life-threatening, but the symptoms are not always evident right away.
A brain injury may affect a patient in numerous ways, including:
- Behaviorally / emotionally, with changes in mood, patience, irritability, irrational anger, inability to focus, repetitive behavior, or loss of constraint
- Cognitively, with affects such as memory loss, confusion, inability to pay attention or focus, concentration problems, and amnesia
- Physically, with issues such as balance disorders, vertigo, dizziness, fainting spells, headaches, bruising, seizures, and exhaustion
- Speech issues such as slurred speech
- Vision issues such as blurred vision or light sensitivity
Treating and diagnosing brain injuries can be complex, and it is important that patients seek treatment early on to identify and properly treat the condition.
Can You Fully Recover from a Brain Injury?
While brain injuries often result in some degree of brain damage, it is possible to make a partial or even full recovery. The prognosis for recovery will depend a great deal on the type of brain injury a person has sustained, as well as the severity of the injury. Each situation is unique but, generally speaking, the recovery process for traumatic brain injuries is a long one.
Below is a very general overview of how the traumatic brain injury recovery process may look:
- Stage One: Early Recovery – The type and severity of the injury will determine what the first stage of recovery looks like. A person who sustains a concussion will likely pass through this first stage much quicker than someone who suffers a more severe type of brain injury. The early stages of recovery for a traumatic brain injury may involve partial consciousness, coma, or a vegetative state. Typically, individuals who suffer moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries will go through some form of confusion and disorientation; the victim may experience difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and other early brain injury symptoms. It is not uncommon for recovery to appear inconsistent at this stage. This first stage typically lasts anywhere from a few days to a number of weeks.
- Stage Two: Several Months After the Injury: Most traumatic brain injury victims experience the greatest degree of improvement in the first six months following the injury. During this stage of recovery, the victim may begin to exhibit improvements in memory, concentration, and cognitive function. He or she may also show signs of physical recovery if the injury affected his or her movements. The rate of improvement during this time ranges fairly dramatically from person to person; the reason for this is unknown. However, brain injury victims are strongly encouraged to follow all advice and direction from their doctor(s) in order to possibly improve the degree and speed of recovery.
- Stage Three: Long-Term Effects: Some brain injury victims may continue recovering in the years following the accident; others will show minimal or no improvements as the years progress. Additionally, some traumatic brain injury victims may experience worsening symptoms over time. While it is not fully known why some people recover more fully from traumatic brain injuries than others, we are beginning to learn more about the factors involved in predicting recovery outcomes. In general, those who suffer more severe brain injuries will be less likely to make a full recovery. Furthermore, the length of loss of consciousness/confusion can also be used to predict how much a person will be able to recover.
While it is possible for people to make a full recovery after a traumatic brain injury, both victims and their loved ones should be aware that it is likely going to be a long road to recovery and some individuals will not be able to return to what was once considered a normal life. However, this does not mean that victims cannot still lead full and meaningful lives.
Whether you suffered head trauma in a motor vehicle accident or in a slip and fall incident, learn more about how to recover compensation for your brain injury.
Most Common Causes of Brain Injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 230,000 people are hospitalized every year due to a traumatic brain injury, with a large majority of them caused by violent blows to their head due to accidents or intentional injuries.
Leading causes of brain injuries include:
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