The location and severity of a brain injury may cause the destruction or degeneration of brain cells. The brain continues to develop until the late teens, helping injuries occurring in childhood to heal more rapidly. In major cases of brain injury the most serious results can be permanent disability, speech problems, mental handicaps, and worse, coma or death.
Trauma and blows or bumps to the head are a leading cause of brain injuries. Neurologists, neurosurgeons, and psychiatrists provide medical care and rehabilitation for brain injured patients. Psychologists may also be involved in assessing the amount of brain damage and become engaged in the patient's treatment.
Fortunately, brain injury does not always result in a long period of disability. Rehabilitation programs may be designed by doctors and other personnel to aid treating the patient to restore lost functions or help the patient relearn lost skills.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) may be called acquired brain injury, intra cranial injury, or head injury when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. Symptoms of a TBI can be mild to severe depending on the extent of the brain's damage.
About 20 percent of TBIs are caused by violence from firearm assaults and child abuse. Only a small percentage is caused by sports injuries. Extra-axial hemorrhage of a ruptured blood vessel occurs within the skull, but outside the brain.
A rupture of a blood vessel occurring within the brain is called intra-axial. This kind of injury is seen in near drowning and heart attack victims. Some patients may have sensory problems, especially with vision. Victims may not recognize people or objects.
Some common symptoms and indications of a traumatic brain injury may be subtle or might not be seen until weeks after the injury. Not all blows to the head result in a TBI. Head injuries might range from mild to severe, and cause a series of complicated symptoms.
Constant head or neck pain that doesn't go away, difficulty in remembering, concentrating or trying to make decisions, slow thinking, or speaking are common signs of TBI. Blurred vision, tired eyes, loss of the sense of smell or taste, and ringing in the ears are other symptoms.
Changes may occur in sleep patterns such as sleeping more or less. Light headedness, along with dizziness, loss of balance, or stomach sickness may affect certain individuals. Others may suffer from increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, and distractions.
The patient may become easily lost or confused and develop slowness in thinking, speaking, and accomplishing things. Changes in feelings might cause the patient to lack motivation, have less energy, and develop anger.
Today brain injury survivors have hope that their condition, no matter how serious, can be dealt with successfully so that they may be treated with dignity and return to independence. They need to work hard in rehabilitation, ask questions from their care givers, and find answers to their problems.
Credit: Grant Davis is a freelance writer.
While the defense may claim the plaintiff does not have, for example, a mild traumatic brain injury because it was not diagnosed in the emergency room, consider the fact that a recent study found that ER missed mild TBI diagnoses 56% of the time!
Powell J et all, Accuracy of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosis, Arch Phys Med Rehabil Vol 89, August 2008, 1550 at l552.
At the Spiva Law Group, we have extensive experience representing clients and victims who have suffered brain injuries.