What Are the Long Term Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to a lifetime of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. These changes can affect an individual’s ability to function in his or her daily life.
Traumatic brain injury cases are incredibly complex and require the knowledge and skill of an attorney familiar with these specific types of injuries. At Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd., our accomplished traumatic brain injury lawyers have extensive experience in these matters and we are committed to helping TBI victims pursue the full and fair compensation to which they may be entitled under the law.
Understanding the Long-Term Effects of TBI
A traumatic brain injury can affect a victim’s life long after he or she leaves the hospital. A permanent disability will forever change a person’s quality of life, the cognitive, social-emotional, and financial consequences of TBI can impose a lifelong impact. Some of the long-term effects of TBI include:
Motor Deficits and Disabilities
A brain injury can severely and permanently impact the ability to walk, drive, or move freely. Fine motor skills like carrying objects, getting dressed, and avoiding falls can all be indefinitely compromised. Seizures may also develop, making everyday activities more dangerous.
Examples of motor deficits and disabilities caused by moderate to severe TBI include:
- Problems walking
- Problems talking
- Problems swallowing
- Problems sleeping
- Spasticity (muscle stiffness) or uncontrolled movements
- Loss of fine motor skills, such as buttoning a shirt
- Difficulty carrying or moving objects
Other Physical Effects
Chronic pain can profoundly disrupt an individual’s quality of life. In addition to issues of disabilities and motor deficits, a number of other physical consequences can affect a TBI victim’s life, such as:
- Loss of control of bowel and bladder functions
- Hormonal changes
- Difficulty regulating body temperature
- Chronic pain
- Appetite changes
- Loss of stamina (easily fatigued)
- Difficulty perceiving movement and positions of the arms and legs
- Difficulty recognizing and distinguishing between touch and pressure sensations
Victims of TBI may also struggle with visual perception skills, making it difficult to recognize human faces or certain objects, navigate buildings, or make sense of common shapes or pictures.
The cognitive effects of a brain injury impact the way someone thinks, learns, and remembers. Different areas of the brain control different cognitive abilities. Depending on the area and severity of the damage, traumatic brain injuries can affect a range of skills such as language, memory, concentration, problem-solving, and speed of thought.
Some of the long-term cognitive effects of TBI include:
- Difficulty with attention, focus, or concentration
- Memory problems
- Difficulty with language processing
- Abnormal, persistent repetitions of an act, word, or gesture (perseveration)
Cognitive issues can also involve problems with executive functions, such as not being able to:
- Inhibit inappropriate actions
- Determine right from wrong
- Think abstractly
- Have cognitive flexibility
Effects on Speech and Language
The inability to communicate effectively and be understood by others can take a tremendous toll on a TBI victim’s quality of life.
The term aphasia describes difficulties speaking, writing, or understanding language. It occurs when an injury affects the area of the brain that contributes to language. Types of aphasia can include:
- Expressive aphasia: Knowing what you want to say but being unable to get the words out. In some cases, individuals may perceive and comprehend both spoken and written language, but cannot repeat what they see or hear.
- Receptive aphasia: Difficulty understanding spoken language
Other examples of speech and language challenges faced by TBI victims include:
- Difficulty processing information obtained through sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch
- Reading comprehension problems Slurred speech
- Speaking very slow or very fast
Effects on Vision
Traumatic brain injuries can affect a victim’s vision in a number of ways. Some of the most common types of vision problems include:
- Partial or total vision loss
- Double vision caused by eye muscle weakness (diplopia)
- Blurred vision
- Light intolerance (photophobia)
- Difficulty judging distance
- Involuntary eye movements (nystagmus)
Effects on Hearing
Hearing loss can sometimes occur with traumatic brain injury, often due to fracture of the inner ear or cochlea, or damage to the tiny bones in the middle ear. Even if the ear itself is not damaged, TBI victims may experience problems caused by the way sound is processed in the brain. TBI-related hearing issues can include:
- Loss or decrease of hearing
- Intolerance or increased sensitivity to sounds
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Effects on Smell and Taste
Certain nerves are triggered as air enters the nose. These nerves send information to a part of the brain called the olfactory bulb. Sensory information then travels to the area of the brain that allows us to smell. When certain areas of the brain are damaged, it may harm the nerve that carries smell sensation from the nose to the brain (olfactory nerve) or harm to parts of the brain that process smell. Loss of smell is often the cause of loss of taste after TBI.
Loss of Employability
Individuals who experience brain injuries often miss work because of their injuries and seek treatment. Some long-term effects of TBI can prevent victims from ever returning to work again, due to a loss of essential cognitive or motor skills. These losses can damage both a person’s financial future and their sense of purpose.
Damage to Relationships
Individuals who suffer traumatic brain injuries do not feel like themselves anymore. Their partners can feel as though they are involved with a completely different person.
TBI victims struggle to recognize facial expressions or remember conversations and shared events. These challenges can impact established relationships and prevent new relationships from forming.
Emotional and behavioral effects include:
- Lack of motivation
- Fluctuating emotions
- Lack of inhibition
- Dependent behaviors
- Denial or lack of awareness
Long-Term Financial Issues
In addition to the numerous physical and emotional consequences of TBI, many people struggle financially after suffering a traumatic brain injury.
The medical costs associated with TBIs can often reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. Victims of severe TBI may face a lifetime of specialized care, which can cost millions of dollars. Expenses can include:
- General treatment
- Assistive devices
- Living space modifications
- Professional in-home assistance
A traumatic birth injury lawyer can help you pursue compensation for bodily injury, disfigurement, emotional distress, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury as a result of another person’s careless or reckless actions, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Contact a Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer in Providence Today
Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd. has been helping victims of traumatic brain injury for more than 45 years. We know the devastating impact these injuries can have on the lives of victims and their families. If you or a loved one have suffered a brain injury because of someone else’s negligence, our team can help.
Contact Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd today online or at (401) 273-8330. We welcome clients from Providence and other Rhode Island areas.