Brain Injuries

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, when the head is violently shaken, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue. A traumatic brain injury is often the result of a sudden, violent blow to the head. The skull itself can often withstand a forceful external impact without fracturing, but the blow can cause serious injury to the brain. An injured brain inside an intact skull is known as a closed-head injury.

Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain. A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, fatigue or lethargy, a change in sleep patterns, behavioral or mood changes, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking. A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms, but may also have a headache that gets worse or does not go away, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, an inability to awaken from sleep, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.

Is there any treatment?

Anyone with signs of moderate or severe TBI should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Because little can be done to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma, medical personnel try to stabilize an individual with TBI and focus on preventing further injury. Primary concerns include insuring proper oxygen supply to the brain and the rest of the body, maintaining adequate blood flow, and controlling blood pressure. Imaging tests help in determining the diagnosis and prognosis of a TBI patient. Patients with mild to moderate injuries may receive skull and neck X-rays to check for bone fractures or spinal instability. For moderate to severe cases, the imaging test is a computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance scan. Moderately to severely injured patients receive rehabilitation that involves individually tailored treatment programs in the areas of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, physiatry (physical medicine), psychology/psychiatry, and social support.

What is the prognosis?

Approximately half of severely head-injured patients will need surgery to remove or repair hematomas (ruptured blood vessels) or contusions (bruised brain tissue). Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the individual. Some common disabilities include problems with cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning), sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication (expression and understanding), and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness). More serious head injuries may result in stupor, an unresponsive state, but one in which an individual can be aroused briefly by a strong stimulus, such as sharp pain; coma, a state in which an individual is totally unconscious, unresponsive, unaware, and unarousable; vegetative state, in which an individual is unconscious and unaware of his or her surroundings, but continues to have a sleep-wake cycle and periods of alertness; and a persistent vegetative state (PVS), in which an individual stays in a vegetative state for more than a month.

Car accidents – 50% of all traumatic brain injuries occur during auto accidents.

Falls – the majority of traumatic brain injuries in the elderly occur during falls.

About 1.4 million Americans sustain a traumatic brain injury each year. Luckily, more than 75 percent of these injuries are mild concussions. But even minor brain injuries can cause long-term problems.

Often the victims of traumatic brain injury do not receive proper treatment because insurance companies refuse to authorize it

The consequences of a traumatic brain injury are often more then cognitive and physical

The behavioral changes that may result from TBI are profound. These changes can vary from mood swings to radical personality changes. Insurance companies are profit driven.

The January 8, 2007 edition of The Wall Street Journal featured a front page story on cognitive brain injury rehabilitation entitled “Why Some Patients Get No Help After Brain Injury.” The story describes the inexcusable attitude of insurance companies to the care and rehabilitation of survivors of brain trauma. The stories that are detailed in this article are only a few examples of the thousands of individuals who suffer unnecessarily. Those victims who receive appropriate cognitive rehabilitation are in the minority. The vast majority of the individuals who suffer brain injuries never receive all the therapy they need.

Victims of TBI resulting from the negligence of others need experienced legal counsel to ensure that they receive just settlements

Money cannot undo head injuries; however, a full and fair settlement can provide a person with traumatic brain injury the necessary funds for rehabilitation and medical treatment. Additionally, a TBI victim is entitled to money to replace loss of income due to inability to work and compensation for the pain and suffering he or she endures.

A sufficient settlement will also allow a person with TBI to get the assistance they and their loved ones need to cope with the behavioral changes which so often occur in the victims of TBI.

For more information on traumatic brain injury and treatment visit the following sites: List the names on the right and links are in front of them. Center for Disease Control National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke Brain Trauma Foundation National Resource Center for Traumatic Brain Injury

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