A brain injury may not present itself immediately, leading to deadly consequences. This article discusses brain injuries and the seven common symptoms to note. If you suffered a TBI due to someone else’s negligence, contact a brain injury lawyer for help.
Whether motor vehicle accidents or otherwise, injuries happen when an accident occurs. This could be a spinal cord injury, broken bones, or head injuries. Head wounds manifest as skull fractures or traumatic brain injuries (TBI). If you have a severe injury to your head, it is best to get immediate medical care.
This is because this injury type has several risk factors that might hinder your ability to live and carry out daily activities. There is also the impact it might have on your mental status. So, always go beyond emergency medical care and get a thorough treatment, including a neurological exam.
Unfortunately, treating mild head injuries or severe brain injuries costs money, and your health insurance plan may not cover it. So, if someone’s negligence caused this wound, it is best to pursue a personal injury claim to recover compensation. Contact a traumatic brain injury lawyer at McDonald Worley to learn about your legal options.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
When you bump your head against an object, the force determines whether you would have a mild injury or a severe one. It could be closed or open when you sustain a severe head injury. A closed wound does not go beyond the skull. On the other hand, a penetrating injury pierces through the skull and enters the brain, leading to traumatic brain injuries.
A TBI is a nondegenerative, noncongenital wound to the brain from an external mechanical force. It could lead to permanent brain damage or permanent or temporary impairment of cognitive, physical, and psychological functions. It might also cause a diminished or altered state of consciousness.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the following to say about this type of injury:
- Approximately 223,135 TBI-related hospitalizations in 2019 and 64,362 TBI-related deaths in 2020.
- This means more than 611 TBI-related hospitalizations and 176 TBI-related deaths per day. These estimates do not include the many TBIs that are only treated in the emergency department, primary care, urgent care, or those that go untreated.
- Adults aged 75 years and older had the highest numbers and rates of TBI-related hospitalizations and deaths. This age group accounts for about 32% of TBI-related hospitalizations and 28% of TBI-related deaths.
- Males were nearly two times more likely to be hospitalized (79.9 age-adjusted rates versus 43.7) and three times more likely to die from a TBI than females (28.3 versus 8.4).
- Children (birth to 17 years old) had 16,070 TBI-related hospitalizations in 2019 and 2,774 TBI-related deaths in 2020.
Classification of TBI
Victims sustain primary or secondary injuries.
- Primary Injury: Primary brain injuries are induced by a mechanical force and occur at the injury moment (initial trauma). The two main mechanisms that cause primary injuries are contact (for example, where an object hits the head or the brain strikes the inside of the skull) and acceleration and deceleration.
- Secondary Injury: Secondary injuries are not mechanically induced. Usually, they are delayed from the moment of impact and may superimpose injury on the brain already affected by mechanical damage.
Another classification of brain injuries is focal and diffuse injuries.
- Focal Injury: It includes scalp injury, skull fractures, and surface contusions and is primarily caused by contact.
- Diffuse Injury: This includes diffuse axonal injury (DAI), hypoxic-ischemic damage, meningitis, and vascular injury. Acceleration-deceleration forces cause these wounds.
What Are the Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries?
The degree of damage from a TBI depends on several factors, including the type of accident and the force of impact. Below are everyday events that lead to the different types of head injuries and TBI.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are one of the leading causes of TBI. This could be from a ladder, bed, down the stairs, or in the bath. Falls are preventable by removing trip hazards, keeping surfaces dry, using nonslip mats, and installing grab bars in the bathroom.
Falls are common among adults age 65 or more and young children. Traumatic brain injury in children, primarily toddlers, and infants, is known as the shaken baby syndrome. In older adults, systolic blood pressure plays a significant role in contributing to the secondary injury cascade after severe traumatic brain injury.
See a healthcare provider immediately after a fall for a complete medical evaluation.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Traffic collisions of any type are another leading cause of TBI. It affects cyclists, drivers, motorcycle riders, and pedestrians. One common injury prevention tip is wearing a seat belt. Also, consider window guards, and ensure you get hospital treatment.
Even if you feel fine after a crash, see medical professionals or your primary health care provider. A doctor will use diagnostic tools to perform necessary tests to rule out damage to brain cells, nerve fibers or blood vessels, blood clots, fluid buildup, etc.
Violence, here, refers to gunshot wounds, domestic violence, and other forms of assault. Infants who experience violent shaking develop the shaken baby syndrome.
Different sports, including soccer, boxing, football, baseball, lacrosse, skateboarding, hockey, etc., may cause TBI injuries. In addition, there have been various brain studies (observational studies) on the long-term effects of TBI.
The primary focus of each clinical study is focused on concussions and potential treatments. Some preclinical studies show that concussions accounted for 80% of TBI-related visits to the emergency department.
The development and application of advanced assessment tools, including neuropsychological tests, neuroimaging, and balance and gait assessments, are driving changes in the management of concussions from sports injuries. It has also led to additional studies, including NINDS-Funded studies.
If you suffer a concussion from a sports injury, see a concussion injury specialist. Also, after each of these occurrences discussed above, get a complete medical evaluation. Medical providers know what to watch for and will use the spectrum of injury severity to check how serious it is.
They will also rule out repetitive injuries. So, don’t conclude it’s a single wound down to a single head injury and refuse to get help. Finally, your medical care record contains the neurologic outcome of your wound and the impact on your daily living. Therefore, it is an essential piece of evidence for your brain injury lawyer to use when developing compensatory strategies.
Seven Common Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury
There are several signs associated with a TBI. Below are seven common symptoms an injured person would exhibit.
1. Loss of Consciousness
If you suffer a concussion, you may lose consciousness. The level of consciousness depends on the severity of the brain injury. Your loss of consciousness could be brief for less than 30 minutes or just a daze. But once you do, see your health care provider as it indicates an underlying issue with your brain.
2. Blurred Vision
A TBI disrupts normal brain function, and this could cause blurred or double vision. Consequently, the injured person finds it hard to focus, track, and conduct eye movements, affecting normal activities.
It might also cause dizziness, headaches, and nausea when trying to focus on a task. You may also experience visual memory loss, visual field loss, and sensitivity to light. So, pay close attention to your brain health after a forceful blow to your head.
3. Loss of Balance
Apart from blurred vision, another common sign is loss of balance. This is often accompanied by dizziness and is experienced at some point during the recovery process. Many factors affect how dizzy you’ll feel after a TBI. They include:
- The severity of the brain injury
- The part of the brain affected
- If you suffered other injuries alongside the TBI, e.g., a neck injury, broken ribs, etc.
- The treatment strategies recommended by a healthcare practitioner
Note that persons whose medical history shows mental health conditions or a neurological disease like traumatic encephalopathy also find it hard to maintain proper balance. Brain stem injuries and genetic factors also contribute to this symptom.
4. Cognitive Difficulties
TBI has several neurocognitive consequences at all levels of severity. There are different outcomes for people, but most times, it exhibits disturbances of attention, memory, and executive functioning. Cognitive rehabilitation is a common way of treating memory impairments from a TBI, as seen in the Institute of Medicine report.
Brain cell death is a common cause of memory impairment. Individual brain cells have different roles, and the death of these individual cells means the loss of function. Cognitive difficulties also affect the planning and problem-solving parts of the brain.
The life-long consequences of this wound are why injured, and non-injured persons should visit a trauma center after an accident. First, however, after getting initial treatment from the emergency care staff, see a neuroscience and regenerative medicine specialist.
5. Emotional Difficulties
Emotional symptoms often accompany a severe head injury or TBI. They are often considered secondary damage and occur when there’s brain damage to the frontal lobe. This part of the brain is responsible for problem-solving, reasoning, impulse control, and judgment.
A person with a damaged frontal lobe has difficulty regulating their emotions. As a result, they will experience the following:
- Extreme mood swings
- Flat affect (a total lack of emotion)
- Angry outbursts and short temper
The rate of recovery for emotional difficulties varies from one individual to the next. However, there are effective treatments you can take advantage of. These treatment options are available in different treatment centers. Also, there are support groups for people who suffer from TBI. Get more information from your local Brain Injury Association or the National Center for Injury Prevention.
6. Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is another sensory symptom of a traumatic brain injury. It manifests when there’s damage to the inner ear or damage to the brain cells that process sound. If left, undiagnosed, it could affect the effectiveness of medical care and rehabilitation of TBI patients. Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common impairment associated with a head injury.
7. Convulsions or Seizures
Seizures or convulsions surface after brain injury or even months or years after the wound. The CDC notes that the greater the severity, the more likely a victim would develop the brain disorder, epilepsy. Age, genetic factors, and other critical factors determine if a person will experience seizures after a TBI.
You may notice one or more of these signs after a traumatic event that causes a head injury. Persistent symptoms could indicate something worse. So, see a doctor immediately.
Complications Associated With a Traumatic Brain Injury
There are different complications associated with traumatic brain injuries. The difference in people’s medical history means that complications vary from person to person. Below, we look at some of them.
Moderate to severe TBI may cause temporary or prolonged changes in the injured person’s consciousness, awareness, and responsiveness. The different altered states of consciousness are:
- Vegetative state
- Minimally conscious state
- Dead brain tissue
People in any of these states require tube feeding to maintain a balance of nutrients and stay alive. Also, the chances of making a complete recovery are pretty hard. The person would undergo different brain function tests from a team of health care providers to decide whether to continue with the treatment or not. A standard test is brain tissue oxygen monitoring.
Those who regain full consciousness will undergo cognitive rehabilitation therapy before continuing daily living. This is done at a rehabilitation center with a rehabilitation team. If the victim has been in a coma for a long time, they will engage in a physical activity program to improve their balance and strength.
Human brain tissue is an excellent source of information for research and clinical trials. Therefore, it is not uncommon for relatives of victims in a vegetative state or with total brain death to make a donation of brain tissue.
Researchers use post-mortem brain tissue to study different types of brain diseases. Therefore, this ‘precious tissue’ unlike that of animals must be collected naturalistically and stored in tissue repositories.
The following are the different physical complications associated with TBI:
- Fluid buildup in the brain (hydrocephalus)
- Infections (this affects the central nervous system functions)
- Damaged blood vessels (It stops the flow of blood to the brain, causing individual cells death)
Traumatic brain injury at the base of the skull surface can damage the cranial nerves. This could cause:
- Paralysis of facial muscles
- Ringing in the ears
- Swallowing problems
- Loss of altered sense of smell or taste
Degenerative Brain Diseases
Years of brain studies have not found a clear link between degenerative brain diseases and brain injury. However, research has shown that TBI increases the risk of some degenerative conditions like traumatic encephalopathy. It could also cause Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia.
When Should You See Medical Providers After a TBI?
As mentioned repeatedly, a traumatic brain injury has severe consequences. So, after an event where you suffered a blow to the head, seek out medical providers immediately. Do this even if you sustained a mild head injury, especially if you noticed symptoms.
Once you inform the health care provider of your symptoms, they will perform a diagnostic test. Before the initiation of treatment, the emergency care staff will use a 15-point test known as the Glasgow Coma Scale to assess the severity of the TBI.
Medical providers use this to check if the injured person can follow directions with their eyes and limbs and speak coherently. Next, they will ask about the injury and your symptoms. Afterward, the medical provider will perform imaging tests using an MRI machine and a CT scan. This is the standard of care across treatment centers.
Treatment of TBI
Symptom relief is the first focus of TBI treatment. Also, note that your care depends on the injury severity and additional factors.
As mentioned earlier, cognitive rehabilitation interventions are one of the primary treatment options for TBI. Your doctor may also recommend physiatrists, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists, and a neuropsychologist. However, this only applies to those with severe brain damage who need to relearn how to perform daily activities.
Another popular treatment option is surgery. Doctors use it to address:
- Blood clots or hematoma (it is caused by bleeding inside or outside the brain, and if left untreated may adversely raise brain temperature)
- Repairing skull fractures
- Bleeding in the brain
- Open a window in the brain to drain accumulated cerebrospinal fluid
Furthermore, the healthcare provider may recommend medications. This is the case where the victim has normal brain function and does not need emergency medical intervention. The common drugs recommended are anti-seizure drugs, coma-inducing medications, and diuretics.
What Is the Role of a Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer?
Whether you suffered a mild injury or severe TBI, Texas law allows you to seek compensation from the at-fault party. So, after getting medical treatment, put together the details about injuries and consult a lawyer. A brain injury lawyer is your best ally when pursuing TBI settlements.
They will conduct a case outcome assessment to determine your chances of success. If it is high, they will gather the required evidence to prove your claim and develop different compensatory strategies.
Next, the brain injury lawyer will file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. If the claim succeeds, you will get the maximum settlement. Since TBI is a catastrophic injury, the money received would be enough for daily living, current, and future medical expenses, lost wages, physical pain and suffering, etc.
Relatives of victims with permanent brain damage or who die from a TBI can file a lawsuit in their stead. Contact a traumatic brain injury lawyer for more information on how this works.
Reach Out to a Brain Injury Lawyer at McDonald Worley Today
Accidents happen no matter how careful you are. If you suffer a TBI through an occurrence that’s not your fault, the liable party should pay you compensation. First, however, you need a team of legal experts to help you get a fair settlement.
At McDonald Worley, our brain injury lawyers have honed their negotiation and trial skills over years of legal practice and will bring them to bear on your case. You are more than a case number to us, and we’ll fight until we get the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free case review.