Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is a form of acquired brain injury. That is, it is caused by an outside force, not genetics or a birth defect. It is virtually always the result of sudden trauma such as a severe car accident, blunt force trauma, or a fall that involves a substantial impact to the head.
Traumatic brain injuries can be caused by both closed (nonpenetrating) head injuries and open (penetrating) head injuries. As the names for these injuries imply, an open head injury involves damage that fractures the skull and possibly penetrates the brain while a closed head injury involves damage that does not fracture the skull. Both types are considered to be serious injuries and are equally dangerous when it comes to TBI.
Damage to the brain caused by these injuries can be confined to a single area of the brain or it can affect multiple areas.
Because the brain is so delicate, almost any type of accident that jars the head can cause brain injury. Car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, and even slip and fall accidents can all land someone in the hospital with a traumatic brain injury. Many people don’t realize it, but what we commonly refer to as a concussion is, in fact, a form of traumatic brain injury.
The signs and symptoms of TBI vary depending on such factors as age and severity. Brain injury victims may experience symptoms immediately or they can develop several days or even weeks after a traumatic event. Brain injuries can also involve both short and prolonged periods of unconsciousness, but that’s not always the case.
Some common symptoms of TBI include:
- Feeling dazed or not like yourself for several days or weeks after the initial injury
- Headaches (intermittent or constant)
- Confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, restlessness, agitation or loss of coordination
- Blurred vision or tired eyes
- Ringing in the ears
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Changes in sleep patterns or inability to awaken from sleep
- Behavioral or mood changes
- Trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Convulsions or seizures
- Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
- Slurred speech
- Weakness or numbness in the extremities
Small children with moderate to severe TBI generally exhibit symptoms such as persistent crying, an inability to be consoled, and refusal to nurse or eat.
Brain Injuries Require Immediate Medical Attention
As you probably know, the brain controls everything that happens in our bodies. If something malfunctions in the brain, then something will malfunction in the body, too. That’s what makes brain injuries so dangerous. If you hit your hand with something and it swells up, you can put some ice on it and wait for it to heal. If you hit your head and your brain swells, it could kill you.
Never take a head injury lightly. You should always seek medical attention as soon as possible, especially if you lose consciousness, even if it’s just for a moment.
Common Causes Of Brain Injuries
Slip And Fall Accidents – Simple slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of head and brain injuries in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls are behind about half of the head injuries suffered by children 17 or under and responsible for more than 80% of brain injuries occurring in people over 65.
Motor Vehicle Accidents – Car crashes and accidents involving other motor vehicles account for about 20% of all TBI related hospitalizations. They are also the leading cause of death involving traumatic brain injuries for people ages 15 to 34.
Blunt Trauma – Blunt trauma accidents—either an object hitting the head or the head hitting an object—are responsible for 28% of TBI-related emergency room visits for children 17 years old or younger and 17% of TBI-related emergency room visits overall.
Assault – Criminal assault is responsible for about 10% of all brain injuries. It is, unfortunately, the leading cause of brain injury in children 4 years old and younger.
Long-Term Effects Of Traumatic Brain Injury
Depending on the severity of the auto accident, fall, or blunt force trauma, someone can suffer anything from a mild concussion to severe TBI.
Concussions usually cause temporary damage. Most injury victims will recover from a concussion although they may go through what is known as post-concussion syndrome. This includes symptoms such as intermittent headaches and dizziness for days or weeks after their accident. Suffering one concussion can make you more vulnerable to another in the future. Multiple concussions can also lead to permanent brain damage.
More severe brain injuries can have long-lasting or permanent effects. Victims can experience changes in their personality such as mood swings or behavioral and emotional changes including anxiety, aggression, or depression. A TBI can also affect someone’s ability to think, their language skills, their ability to reason and cause temporary or permanent memory loss. The basic senses can also be affected. Someone suffering from TBI may notice differences in their ability to taste, smell, hear, or communicate.
In the most severe traumatic brain injury cases, the injured person may fall into a coma—either temporarily or permanently—and it’s also possible that either the injury itself or complications caused by it can prove to be fatal.
The Costs Of TBI Over Time
A traumatic brain injury has the potential to cause immense physical, emotional, and financial damage to both the victim of the injury and everyone around them. Medical bills associated with TBI can easily reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars, even if the injury proves to be fatal. For survivors of severe traumatic brain injuries, lifetime care costs can reach into the millions.
If you or a loved one suffer a traumatic brain injury, chances are that you will need the help of your insurance company to deal with the costs of things like loss of income, medical expenses including general treatment, prescriptions, therapy, assistive devices, professional assistance such as a nurse, or living space modifications.
Speak To An Experienced Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney
A traumatic brain injury case goes far beyond what we’d consider being average personal injury cases. A claim involving traumatic brain injuries requires a law firm familiar with this specific type of injury and the special circumstances that come with it.
Don’t risk your physical, financial, and emotional health by accepting legal representation from just any personal injury lawyer. You need a legal team behind you with the experience and expertise to go the distance and make sure that you get the full and fair compensation that you’re entitled to receive.
If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury—whether the TBI was caused by an accident or medical malpractice, or even if it resulted in wrongful death—the law offices of Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell can help. Our team of qualified brain injury attorneys has not only years of experience but the case results to prove what kind of legal services we provide for our clients.
Medical and health information adapted from NINDS and the National Institutes of Health, available at https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Traumatic-Brain-Injury-Information-Page