Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are severe and disabling injuries that occur when the brain is struck or jolted by external forces. They are a leading cause of death and disability, impacting millions of individuals each year. This article aims to provide insights into the prevalence, types, symptoms, and consequences of TBIs, as well as the importance of legal support for those affected.
Prevalence and Impact
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TBIs account for approximately 2.6 million emergency room visits, 235,000 hospitalizations, and 50,000 deaths annually in the United States. These numbers may actually be higher since mild TBIs often go unnoticed in emergency room settings. TBIs are a significant source of neuropsychiatric disability and death, with over 30% of car accidents resulting in such injuries. The financial burden of caring for TBI victims throughout their lifetimes reaches millions of dollars.
Types and Symptoms
TBIs are classified as mild, moderate, or severe based on the level of consciousness or Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score. Mild TBIs, commonly referred to as concussions, often lead to full neurological recovery, but patients may experience short-term memory and concentration difficulties. Moderate TBIs manifest as lethargy and disorganization, while severe TBIs result in coma, where patients are unable to open their eyes or follow commands. Oxygen deprivation and swelling pose significant risks for those with severe TBIs, potentially exacerbating brain damage and increasing the likelihood of death. Long-term effects vary based on the extent of the injury and can include impaired amnesia, loss of consciousness, depression, confusion, memory loss, headaches, dizziness, blurry vision, nausea, vomiting, sensory loss, difficulty speaking, insomnia, and personality changes.
Types of Brain Injuries
Different types of brain injuries can occur due to external forces. Some common types include:
- Diffuse Axonal Injury: This injury occurs when rotational forces, such as those experienced in car accidents, shake or rotate the brain forcefully. The brain lags behind the skull’s movement, leading to tearing of nerve tissue throughout the brain. Chemical imbalances and disrupted communication processes result, causing temporary or permanent widespread brain damage, coma, or death.
- Coup-Contrecoup Injury: This injury occurs when the impact on the head causes contusions at both the site of impact and the opposite side of the brain. The brain moves and slams into the skull, causing additional contusions.
- Closed Head Injury: In this type of injury, the head receives an external force, but the skull remains intact. Swelling within the closed skull leads to increased intracranial pressure, compressing brain tissues and causing further injury. The brain may expand through available openings, such as eye sockets, affecting eye nerves and impairing their functions.
Consequences and Diagnosis
Since the brain defines who we are, the consequences of a brain injury can affect all aspects of our lives, including personality. Brain injuries do not heal like other injuries, and recovery mechanisms remain uncertain. No two brain injuries are the same, and the effects can vary greatly. Symptoms may present immediately or take days or weeks to appear. Depending on the location of the injury, various functions may be affected, such as motor function, problem-solving, memory, language, judgment, impulse control, and emotional regulation.
Diagnostic tools like MRI, CT scan, PET scan, SPECT scan, fMRI, and MR spectroscopy can help assess and evaluate the brain’s condition after a traumatic brain injury.
The Importance of Legal Support
After experiencing a traumatic brain injury, short-term professional assistance is often provided, leaving family members to handle the long-term care needs. Lack of proper training and professional support for caregivers can lead to problems like social isolation, role changes, depression, anxiety, and somatic difficulties. Victims of TBIs often require long-term cognitive rehabilitation, physical therapy, counseling, adaptive modifications, case coordination, and attendant care. Expert consultants can help establish a baseline condition, develop treatment protocols, determine the necessary duration of care, and assess the costs associated with implementing a life care plan.
Traumatic brain injuries have a profound impact on individuals, resulting in long-lasting physical, cognitive, and emotional effects. Seeking legal support is crucial for those affected, as it can help secure compensation for their losses. If you or a loved one has suffered a TBI, consulting experienced brain injury lawyers, such as Abir Cohen Treyzon Salo, LLP, can provide the necessary expertise and assistance in navigating the legal process. With their dedication and knowledge, they strive to ensure that TBI victims receive the compensation they deserve. Contact them today for a free consultation.