Head injuries are much more common than you might expect, and there are many different causes of traumatic brain injury that can change your life in an instant.
Head injuries are common in almost any situation. The delicate brain, further, is vulnerable to severe damage even in the mildest accidents. When an external force is stuck upon the head, there is a chance for traumatic brain injuries.
The soft brain tissue is protected by a surrounding fluid that does not allow the brain to be in direct contact with the skull. However, a violent action can move or jolt the brain significantly. This causes contact between the brain and skull which can result in closed head damage to some or all parts of the brain.
What Are the Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury?
There are different types of brain injuries that may occur. Penetrating injuries (such as a gunshot) cause a more visible and severe form of damage, by piercing through the skull and into the brain (or through it).
Most traumatic brain injuries result in the loss of consciousness. This may be for 15 minutes or longer. Mild injuries may not knock the person out but it will cause some dizziness or confusion.
However, there are four causes of traumatic brain injury that are most common:
1. Slips and Falls
One of the main causes of traumatic brain injury is falling. These incidents usually occur when a person slips on surfaces such as wet or polished floors. Tripping on uneven surfaces, loose flooring, or cluttered walking pathways also lead to falls.
Falls caused due to slips and trips are often completely preventable. The most common instances of people injuring their head due to a fall are as follows:
- Tripping over a curb or sidewalk and slamming the head onto a nearby object or the ground.
- Falling at home (or someone else’s home) and knocking your head onto furniture (usually tables, countertops, etc.)
- Slipping on a wet floor and landing on your back.
- Tripping over debris on the floor.
Even a minor fall can result in traumatic brain injury. The impact on the head will determine the severity of the injury and its long-term consequences. When a person senses a fall they also attempt to break the fall using their arms and hands. However, this makes them vulnerable to other serious injuries such as back injuries, sprained muscles, broken bones, cuts, etc.
Despite all the precautions, sometimes falls occur due to another person’s negligence in maintaining their property (private or commercial). It is their responsibility to ensure that spaces are not prone to accidents such as slipping or tripping. The property owner mus repair any broken flooring or staircase.
Visitors must also be warned (with signs) if a surface is slippery or wet.
2. Motor Vehicle Accidents
Typically, the most common causes of traumatic brain injury is due to car accidents. In these accidents, head injuries are due to the sheer force of a crash. The head may strike the steering wheel or simply jolt the brain to collide with the skull.
Open head injuries are also possible if the person is knocked over the windshield. It is accompanied by blunt trauma and has more serious consequences.
In some cases, it is possible that the automobile manufacturer is held responsible for the collision. Automobile manufacturers are required to consider the possibility of a crash when designing the vehicle.
If the vehicle failed to protect the passengers the way it should have, the manufacturer is held responsible. Further, defects like sudden automatic acceleration also causes significant injuries and damage.
Common automobile defects include:
- Defective airbags and/or seatbelts
- Faulty door latches
- Improper roofs
- Laminated glass on windshields and windows (instead of tempered glass)
- Child safety seat failures
- Tire failures
Brain injuries can also occur indirectly by a vehicle collision. A sudden deceleration of the vehicles (a sudden break) causes the body to violently jerk. The brain that has been traveling at a lower speed than the skull knocks against the skull causing coup and contrecoup injuries.
These type of injuries affect both the site of impact, as well as, the area opposite to the site of impact. Such violent movement also results in another type of brain injury called diffuse axonal injury. Small and large tears may occur along the nerves of the brain.
Such closed head injuries are often termed “silent killers”. This is because they do not manifest until much later. Further, even if the primary symptoms or consequences subside, secondary symptoms can continue to appear in the following weeks and months. Hence it is important to check for any brain damage immediately after a vehicle accident, crash and collision.
3. Acts of Violence
Assault and violence usually result in a number of serious injuries. Brain injuries caused due to acts of violence can be open head injuries (gunshots or knife) or closed head injuries (concussions, contusions, etc.).
The most common causes of traumatic brain injury from violence is domestic violence. It can be between spouses and a current or ex-partner. In the United States, an average of 4.8 million women report physical assaults. Further, frequent physical assaults can cause severe symptoms and consequences. These assaults can be in the form of:
- Violent shaking which causes the brain to rock back and forth within the skull. This creates tears and lacerations in the brain tissue which cause long-term and irreparable damage.
- Blows to the head which can cause localized damage (at the site of impact). If the force is severe enough, there may also be diffused damage to brain tissue at the area opposite the site of impact. This happens when a victim’s head is smashed with an object or against the wall.
- Strangulation, which cuts off the oxygen supply to the brain. This causes acquired brain injuries that are characterized by an the lack of oxygen supply to the brain.
Most victims of domestic violence do not come forward to report or treat their injuries. Further, since brain injury is an “invisible injury” the damage is usually not evident immediately.
The seriousness of their medical condition is thus not identifiable by the mere appearance of “looking fine”. This makes the victims susceptible to sustained and frequent incidents of brain injury. A repeat injury (before the first brain injury has healed) raises the risk of adverse and irreparable damage.
4. Sports-Related Injuries
Contact sports such as football, hockey, boxing, etc. are also common causes of traumatic brain injury. These sports are increasingly result in mild or moderate concussions.
Since these injuries are closed-head injuries, most players and athletes ignore the symptoms of a brain injury. This neglect can result in severe damage. Every year, an average of 3.8 million athletes suffer concussions due to their sport.
Of all the sports, football causes the most number of head and brain injuries. On field collisions, heading the ball and knock-out punches frequently occur during the sport. These can result in mild concussions that have the possibility of developing into a serious injury.
Additionally, most players are eager to get back in the game. This means they might downplay their symptoms or return to play before the injury has healed completely. This makes athletes prone to repeat concussions.
Many professional athletes have sustained multiple brain injuries that resulted in degenerative diseases such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, dementia, Alzheimer’s and so on.
When Should You File a Brain Injury?
Given the dangerous and stealthy nature of a brain injury, it's essential to tend to them immediately. Regardless of the causes of traumatic brain injury, seeking medical attention is the priority in any of these situations.
Further, if the accident is due to the negligence or actions of another person or entity, you can claim compensation for your brain injury.
The responsible party must compensate the damages suffered by the victim.
An experienced lawyer can assist you in navigating the complex laws regarding brain injury lawsuits. At Nehora Law, we understand the traumatic experience of recovering from a brain injury. Our team of experienced brain injury attorneys can minimize the burden of a legal process.
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