A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when an external force, such as a bump, blow or jolt to the head, results in brain dysfunction. Traumatic brain injuries happen to approximately 2.5 million people each year. They contribute to about 30% of all injury deaths. In recent years, research has shown that concussions or traumatic brain injuries have greatly increased among children ages 19 and younger, largely due to sports or other recreational activities.
TBI is also a high risk for persons ages 75 and older, but this type of injury can happen to anyone. A brain injury is different from other injuries. A broken leg, for example, limits your ability to walk, but your mental capacity and personality are not affected.
A brain injury, however, often affects all aspects of your life. Each brain injury is unique and so are the consequences. For this reason, you should schedule a free consultation with a brain injury lawyer if you have sustained head trauma.
The initial trauma may be visible, such as bruises or cuts on the head. Other times there are no visible indications of a possible brain injury. The injury can range anywhere from mild, such as a concussion, to severe, with long-lasting physical and psychological effects. Symptoms may occur right away, or may appear days or even weeks after the injury. However, never assume that a brain injury is "just a concussion." Even a mild brain injury may be serious and the injured person should obtain prompt medical attention.
In the past, traumatic brain injury was a fairly common and frequently missed diagnosis. Previously, experts believed that if someone did not lose consciousness, he or she did not experience a brain injury. Similarly, a normal MRI or CT scan indicated that there was no permanent brain injury. Today, advances in medical knowledge have reduced the death rate, but the effects are still significant. Now, doctors know that the brain is more fragile and vulnerable to injury than previously believed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Injury Prevention, common causes of TBI include falls, blows to the head, car and trucking accidents and assaults. Other causes include neglect, such as shaken baby syndrome, or product negligence.
Symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury may include:
- Persistent head or neck pain
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Slowness or difficulty in thinking, concentrating, remembering, speaking, or making decisions
- Exhaustion, or lack of energy and motivation
- Fluctuating sleep patterns
- Unexplained mood changes
- Blurred vision, ringing ears, or sensitivity to light and sound
According to the Mayo Clinic, a severe traumatic brain injury may exhibit the same symptoms of a mild injury, but it may also show additional symptoms within the first few hours or days after the injury:
- Loss of consciousness, lasting anywhere from minutes to hours
- Seizures or convulsions
- Dilation of the pupils of one or both of the eyes
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Inability to awaken from sleep
- A persistent or worsening headache
- Frequent or sustained vomiting or nausea
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
- Loss of coordination
- Profound confusion or agitation
- Other unusual behavior
- Slurred speech
Infants and young children with brain injuries may be unable to tell you what they are feeling. If a child has experienced a blow, shaking, or other injury to the head, watch the child carefully for:
- The same danger signs as those in adults
- Change in eating or nursing habits
- Persistent crying and inability to be consoled
- Unusual or easy irritability
- Change in ability to pay attention
- Change in sleep habits
- Sad or depressed mood
- Loss of interest in playing with favorite toys or activities
The effects of a traumatic brain injury are unpredictable.
TBI can last for days, weeks, or may be permanent. These effects may include problems with vision, hearing, memory, thinking, speaking, or emotional function. The effects vary from person to person and are affected by multiple factors, such as the type of injury, the location and the severity. An individual with a TBI has all the same joys and frustrations as everyone else. There are good days and difficult days, but he or she may also struggle with anger, fear, depression, anxiety or panic attacks. He may be easily over-stimulated or confused by noise or crowds. These effects can make it difficult to re-enter the real world, return to work, or deal with complex problems. Traumatic brain injuries are sometimes invisible injuries, because onlookers may not be aware of the pain and emotional exhaustion required to do everyday activities. They may just see a person who is having difficulty with simple tasks, or is taking a long time to make a decision. An individual with a TBI may need varying amounts of care and support for a long time. There is no clear ending date, but in general, the longer and more intense the rehabilitation, the better the recovery.
Taking the Next Steps
The family and friends of the injured individual are also affected. Changes in brain function may alter the individual's relationships with family, friends and the community, as well as job responsibilities. Caregivers may also experience distress, depression and the financial burdens as a result of the TBI. Long-term medical care and rehabilitation may be required. In any case of traumatic brain injury, it is important to obtain prompt medical care and ongoing treatment as necessary in order to obtain the best possible quality of life for everyone who is affected by a brain injury.
If you or a loved one have sustained a traumatic brain injury, seek medical assistance. If you have questions or need legal assistance, please contact us for a free consultation. Nehora Law Firm has specialist brain injury attorneys who can help you recover the compensation you deserve.