Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of TBI-related emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths increased by 53% between 2006 and 2014. About 2.87 million TBI-related incidents occur in the U.S. every year. This doesn’t include those who haven’t gone to the hospital for medical treatment or live with undiagnosed brain injuries.
If you or a loved one have suffered an accident that involved a head injury, the traumatic brain injury attorneys at Terry Katz & Associates can help. Contact our injury law firm today at 888-488-7459 to receive a free case evaluation of your personal injury case or to obtain legal representation.
A person can suffer a TBI if they experience a sudden injury to the head, such as a bump, blow, jolt, rapid movement, or extreme shaking. Medical professionals call these closed head injuries. A TBI can also occur if an object penetrates or cracks the skull. This is known as a penetrating, or open head injury. Common causes of traumatic brain injuries are:
Falls are a top cause of TBI in adults aged 65 or older and a major contributor to TBIs in children. However, persons of any age can suffer a TBI from a fall. Common accidents include falling off ladders, tripping on stairs, and slipping on icy sidewalks or wet floors.
Accidents involving motor vehicles are another major contributor to TBI. They occur in head-on collisions, rear-end collisions, motorcycle accidents, or any other type of car accident where the head suffers a blow, jolt, or another rapid movement.
Being struck by an object can have severe consequences when it happens and unfortunately, TBIs are often the result. Construction site accidents are a common area where heavy objects can fall and strike workers or passerby who are in the vicinity. A tree limb can break off and hit a person, bulky merchandise may fall off a shelf in a store and strike their head, or a person’s head strikes an object, such as a wall, floor, or other hard surfaces.
TBIs often occur during the course of playing sports. Football, soccer, boxing, baseball, softball, lacrosse, wrestling, basketball, skateboarding, or any other high-impact sport carry risk. Many sports now require protective gear to help reduce TBI accidents.
Sadly, many children suffer brain injuries from being shaken too hard. This is known as “abusive head trauma” but more commonly referred to as “shaken baby syndrome.”
A person hit by a bullet or shrapnel can suffer an open head injury. Other common causes of penetrating injuries include being hit or struck by a weapon, such as a knife, baseball bat, hammer, or another heavy object. Explosions, natural disasters, or other unexpected or extreme events can also result in a penetrating head injury.
TBI is broken up into three categories: mild, moderate, and severe. All can be life-altering because anything that alters the brain cells creates some form of brain damage, even if minor. Once a TBI occurs, regardless of severity, the brain is never exactly the same as it was before. Here is an overview of different types of brain injuries:
You’ve probably frequently heard of concussions, but what you might not know is a concussion is a type of TBI. It is the most common type and is classified as a mild traumatic brain injury or mTBI. Concussions can be caused by direct blows to the head, by violent shaking, or from whiplash. Most people, over time, recover from concussions, but there may still be some residual or permanent effects. If you suffer a second, or additional, concussion event, it puts you in a higher risk category.
A brain contusion is a type of TBI caused by bruising on the brain tissue. When it occurs on both sides of the head, it’s known as a “coup-contrecoup.” Often contusion bruises resolve themselves in time, but they must be closely monitored because sometimes they’ll need surgical intervention.
A hematoma is heavy bleeding occurring in or around the brain. There are several types of hematomas:
Hematoma or contusion injuries can be very serious; left unmonitored, can be fatal.
Skulls are the hardest bones in your body but don’t have bone marrow. This means it cannot absorb the impact caused when the head is hit hard enough to break it. There are four primary types of skull fractures:
Skull fractures often heal over the course of several months, but sometimes can be permanent. For example, if a fragment of bone becomes lodged in the crack, it may never heal completely. A medical professional will closely monitor the break to see how the healing progresses and if it’s knitting together on its own.
Edema is swelling on the brain. Similar to swelling you might experience in other parts of your body, but when it happens within the brain tissue, it’s serious because the skull isn’t elastic to accommodate swelling the way skin tissue does. Sometimes surgery or an ICP (intracranial pressure) monitor inserted is needed to relieve the pressure and monitor any swelling.
Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) occurs when the brain suffers small tears in its tissues, causing permanent damage to the affected brain cells. It typically results from shifting inside of the brain, or when it suffers rotational forces or violent stopping. DAI is also known as “brain shearing.”
Other TBIs, such as anoxia and hypoxia, occurs when the brain experiences a loss, or decreased flow, of oxygen.
TBI was long-known as the “silent epidemic” because it wasn’t always immediately apparent, even to medical experts, that injury was present after an accident. Today, we know much more about TBI and how it can lead to life-altering changes. The effects of TBI can include physical disabilities, emotional functioning problems, and cognitive issues. Some effects are short-term while others last longer or are permanent, depending on the cause of the accident, injuries sustained, and access to proper medical treatment.
Signs of mTBI include loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes, a dazed feeling, nausea/vomiting, headache, fatigue, slurring, sleep problems (too little or too much), or dizziness/loss of balance. Victims may also experience sensory symptoms, such as ears’ ringing, blurred vision, or change in taste or smell. They may also feel sensory sensitivities such as light or sound. Cognitive impairments may include difficulties with memory or concentration, mood swings or changes, depression, or anxiety.
The presence of a moderate or severe brain injury is usually easier to detect, but the full extent of the injury may not be known for days, weeks, or sometimes longer (e.g. people who suffered brain injuries as children may not show certain symptoms until they reach the age where they use higher-level thinking functions).
Physical symptoms include a loss of consciousness for several minutes to hours (or coma), severe headaches that don’t go away, continuous nausea/vomiting, seizures, dilation of one or both eye pupils, fluid leakage from ears or nose, inability to be roused from sleep, muscle weakness, slurred speech, loss of coordination, or weaknesses in fingers and toes (or numbness).
Cognitive impairments and emotional symptoms may also be present. In addition to signs of mTBI, the injured might also experience significant confusion, memory loss, agitation, rage, or exhibit other unusual behaviors. It is common for families and friends of TBI victims to describe their loved one as having a “different personality” after an accident.
It is extremely important to seek treatment from a medical professional ASAP after experiencing an injury or blow to the head, even if you feel like you are fine after it happens. The earlier TBI is diagnosed and medical care obtained, the better chances of a stronger recovery. Doctors will examine you and perform one or more diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and EEGs. What tests are given will depend upon the severity and nature of your injury.
When a TBI is diagnosed can impact the level of recovery. Some symptoms appear immediately, but other signs of a TBI may not appear until days or weeks later when problems could have been addressed or monitored earlier by medical professionals.
TBI is a serious health issue that should never be undermined or ignored. Sadly, many myths circulate about TBI. Here are some of the top myths you might hear:
All are untrue. Many insurance companies and their claim adjusters will work hard to diminish a head injury, but TBI, for many brain injury victims, is a lifelong condition. It is estimated 13.5 million people in the U.S. live with a disability due to TBI.
If you, or a family member, were in an accident that resulted in a TBI, the brain injury attorneys at the Terry Katz & Associates law firm are here for you. We understand the pain and suffering you struggle with on a daily basis. Our legal team also recognizes difficulties you may face in your everyday life, even with the simplest tasks most take for granted. We’ll work hard to ensure you receive compensation for lost wages, medical bills, future medical expenses, and any other quality of life losses resulting from your head injury. If you’ve lost a loved one, we can file a wrongful death claim.
Call our Long Island office today at 1-888-488-7459 to receive a no-obligation, free consultation from one of our personal injury attorneys. Our attorneys are very experienced with brain injury cases and are happy to provide you with a free case evaluation to help you decide the best legal options for your injury case.