Traumatic Brain Injury
Injuries to the brain, despite being invisible, can be some of the most catastrophic injuries a person can endure. Most of us take our brain function for granted, until we suffer a serious head injury or traumatic brain injury (TBI), and realize just how much is in jeopardy. Unfortunately, for the most part, brain cells cannot be replaced, especially if a large quantity of them are damaged or destroyed, which can happen with a traumatic brain injury. The result is that the effects of a brain injury—cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and physical-- can be permanent and life altering. That is why it is so important to get the best medical care and to find a knowledgeable brain injury attorney to protect your rights if you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury.
Head trauma cases can be medically complex and legally challenging. Your attorney must be experienced with these kinds of cases and have access to doctors and experts who are up to date with the current science if you want to win your brain injury case. The compassionate brain injury attorneys at The Collins Law Firm understand the scientific and legal aspects involved, as well as the emotional impact that these kinds of injuries can have on the family. We encourage families and patients to seek emotional support--which is often necessary when they are dealing with the consequences of these injuries--while we guide them through the legal process and fight to secure the maximum compensation for their brain injury.Frequently Asked Questions:
- How Dangerous are Traumatic Brain Injuries?
- What are the Major Causes of Brain Injuries?
- What are the Different Types of Brain Injuries?
- What are the Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury?
- what-are-the-long-term-effects-of-Traumatic Brain Injury?
- What are the Financial Costs of a Brain Injury?
Concussions, and the dangers they pose, are getting attention because of the studies on football players suffering from a debilitating brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of sustaining multiple concussions while playing professional football. But it is not just football players that need to worry about brain injuries.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that 2.53 million people sustained traumatic brain injuries in 2014 (the most recent statistics available). More worrisome is the fact that about 288,000 of these people (including 23,000 children) required hospitalization, and 56,800 of them (including 2529 children) died from their injuries. This statistic makes it clear that brain injuries are a serious problem in the U.S. The leading causes of traumatic brain injuries include car accidents, serious falls, blows to the head (including sports injuries) and assaults. Additionally, many more people sustain non-traumatic brain injuries due to a stroke or lack of oxygen to the brain. Overall, an estimated 5.3 million people in the United States are living with a permanent TBI related disability. As you can see, the consequences of traumatic brain injuries can be very serious.
Motor vehicle accidents – A driver or passenger in a car or motorcycle can suffer a traumatic brain injury if their head slams into the car during a crash or they are thrown from a car or motorcycle on impact. Truck and auto accidents account for the majority of TBIs in people 15 - 44 years old and result in about one fifth of TBI related hospitalizations.
Serious falls – Another leading causes of traumatic brain injuries—falls--are responsible for almost half of TBI related emergency room visits. These can involve something as serious as falling down stairs or even something as simple as falling on ice or in a nursing home. These injuries occur most frequently in children and older adults over 65, and are the leading cause of TBI-related hospitalizations for the young and the elderly.
Birth injuries – These injuries are sustained by newborns as a result of medical negligence during childbirth, and can result in permanent brain damage with devastating, lifelong consequences. Improper force used on an infant’s head or lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain can result in permanent disability.
Bicycle accidents – Bike accidents are a significant source of traumatic brain injuries, especially when children are thrown over the handlebars. The danger is greatest among children who ride their bikes without a helmet.
Medical malpractice – Brain injuries and brain damage due to medical negligence usually involve a lack of oxygen to the brain. This can occur as a result of the improper administration of anesthesia, surgical errors, failing to diagnose a heart attack or stroke, medication errors, or failing to treat a brain infection.
Sports and recreation – Many athletes, young and old, suffer traumatic brain injury as a result of playing sports. Concussions are most likely in football, but basketball, soccer and even cheerleading account for a large number of concussions each year. It’s important to note that the damage multiplies with more than one concussion.
Trauma to the head – Traumatic brain injuries can occur during an assault, when a victim suffers a violent blow or strikes their head on an object after being knocked down. Other situations that can result in a TBI include child abuse, domestic violence, and shaken baby syndrome. Some of the most serious brain injuries occur when a victim suffers a gunshot wound to the head.
There are many types of brain injuries from mild to severe. Below are a few classifications of brain injuries:
- Penetrating Brain Injury: These injuries occur when something, such as a bullet or other object, breaks the skull and enters the brain. In these situations, the brain is damaged by the foreign object or a piece of bone that has been dislodged. These injuries usually require surgery and can cause permanent and significant disability.
- Intracranial Hematoma: With these types of injuries, the brain is damaged by bleeding on the brain which causes an abnormal collection of blood in the skull. This buildup of blood puts pressure on the brain and can cause serious injury. In an epidural hematoma, a blood clot forms underneath the skull but on top of the dura. With a subdural hematoma, the blood clot forms underneath the skull and under the dura but outside the brain.
- Contusion or Intracerebral Hematoma: These injuries are actual bruises to the brain. They cause bleeding and swelling inside the brain in the area of the head trauma. They can occur with skull fractures or blood clots.
- Concussion: These injuries occur after a direct impact or mild blow to the head that may or may not involve loss of consciousness. Concussions can be caused by a fall or by a collision with another player or a piece of equipment in sports. Concussions can cause sheering of brain cells at a level that cannot be detected by CT scans or MRIs.
- Anoxia / Hypoxia: With these injuries, brain cells die due to a complete lack of oxygen (Anoxia) or not enough oxygen (Hypoxia) reaching the brain. The two leading causes of anoxic brain injuries are cardiac arrest and drowning. These injuries can also happen during a difficult childbirth.
- Diffuse Axonal Injury: These brain injuries are caused by a severe jolt; by a sudden and powerful rotation of the head, or by shaking the brain back and forth. They are the most common type of brain injury following an auto accident and are also the cause of shaken baby syndrome. DAIs can be very severe, with widespread damage to multiple parts of the brain.
- Coup-Contrecoup Injury: These involve injuries on opposite sides of the brain caused by the brain bouncing back and forth in the skull after a severe impact.
- Loss of consciousness
- Persistent headache
- Confusion or dazed behavior
- Vertigo and balance problems
- Lightheadedness, dizziness
- Blurred or double vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Lethargy or fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Altered taste or smell
- Increased irritability
- Sleep disturbances
- Memory, concentration, or attention problems
- Severe headache that gets worse and will not go away
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- Pupil dilation in one or both eyes
- Slurred speech
- Inability to wake up
- Weakness in extremities
- Loss of coordination
- Mood or behavior changes or depression
- Loss of consciousness for over 30 minutes
- Slow respiratory rate and increased blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is critical that you see a doctor immediately for an evaluation and treatment.
In addition to the symptoms that show up within the first few weeks after an injury, traumatic brain injuries can also have long lasting and sometimes permanent effects. Some of these can impair a person’s ability to work, participate in regular daily activities or live independently. Others may damage personal relationships. In any case, the costs of these injuries can be huge.
Long-term effects can include:
- Physical impairments – TBIs can cause motor deficits and disabilities ranging from spasticity or uncontrolled movements, to loss of fine motor skills, to paralysis and seizures. Victims may have difficulty walking, talking, or swallowing, or trouble controlling bowel or bladder function. If severe enough, some of these impairments may require the use of a wheelchair or walker.
- Cognitive disabilities – Brain injuries are known to cause disabilities which include memory problems, confusion, impulsivity, executive function issues, language processing deficits, problems with thinking, or difficulties with attention and focus. These impairments can affect a person’s ability to perform at school or hold a job.
- Social, Emotional and Behavioral effects – Brain injuries can cause a person to behave differently, causing irritability, aggression, low motivation, fluctuating emotions and even depression. These issues can interfere with the victim’s ability to make and maintain relationships and can cause a victim to have difficulties taking part in recreational or social activities.
- Communication Difficulties – TBIs can cause slurred speech, difficulty understanding spoken language and expressing ideas, as well as problems with reading comprehension and writing.
- Vision and Hearing Difficulties – After a traumatic brain injury you may experience partial or total loss of vision or hearing, double vision, blurred vision, tinnitus (or ringing in the ear) or sensitivity to light or sound.
Life after a traumatic brain injury can be challenging, and can put tremendous mental and emotional burdens on a patient and his or her family. The financial burden of a traumatic brain injury can be just as significant. According to Chandi Edmonds, a professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, the unemployment rate for adults with brain injury two years after diagnosis is 60 percent, while the lifetime cost of a patient’s treatment for a traumatic brain injury can total in the millions. The costs of TBIs are so high because they can include significant medical expenses, long term therapy, lost income, and possibly even lifetime care. These two factors together—lost income and huge expenses—can be financially devastating for most families. That is why it is critical to seek out an experienced brain injury attorney to fight for compensation and recovery of expenses.
If you or a family member has suffered a traumatic brain injury because of someone else’s negligence, please take it seriously. Seek medical help as soon as possible for a diagnosis and treatment plan. Be mindful that an emergency room cannot accurately diagnose a brain injury, so a visit with a physician who has experience with brain injuries is essential. After you have seen a doctor and been diagnosed, call our experienced brain injury attorneys at (630) 527-1595 for a free evaluation of your case. If we determine you have a legal claim, we will fight to get you the maximum compensation for your injuries, so you can focus on your recovery.
For more information, read our Brain Injury Blog.