If you’re like most people, when you hear the term traumatic brain injury, or TBI, you probably think of unconsciousness, even coma. While serious brain damage often results in a short or long-term loss of consciousness, that’s not always the case. Traumatic brain injuries can sometimes be difficult to recognize.
How Can Traumatic Brain Injury Happen?
Traffic accidents are far and away the most common cause of TBI. Other common accidents that can lead to this type of brain injury include fallen objects, falls and surgical errors.
Closed Head Injury
Closed head injury usually involves a blow to the head by a blunt object. The skull may crack, but the object doesn’t penetrate. Falls, fallen objects and some auto or motorcycle accidents are the most common causes.
The brain has a somewhat gelatinous texture, not quite fluid but much softer than the skull protecting it. Deceleration injuries occur when the head suddenly stops moving. Physics causes the brain to slam into the skull, often repeatedly becoming compressed and stretched. The soft, pliable brain tissue can literally bounce around inside the skull, causing damage in more than one area.
Open Head Injury
Open head injury refers to a brain injury in which something penetrates the skull, whether breaking the bone or through an orifice such as an eye socket or the nasal cavity. While bullets are the most common cause of open head injury, any object can penetrate the skull if it strikes the right spot with enough force. A surgeon’s error during brain surgery may also result in an open head injury.
Symptoms of TBI
Traumatic brain injury symptoms may be easily evident, or deceivingly subtle. Because the brain literally controls your entire body, the symptoms will differ depending on what part of the brain is injured. TBI can be mild or severe in nature. However, even a mild brain injury can have a devastating effect on the injured person and his or her family.
Concussion: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Concussion, though referred to as a minor head trauma, can present serious, even debilitating symptoms. Unfortunately, mild TBI may go undiagnosed in many cases, since symptoms may take several days or weeks to become evident.
Concussion is the most common form of brain injury. Most cases resolve within several months, although approximately 15 percent of concussion victims will have symptoms lasting longer than one year. Confusion, memory loss, disorientation and brief loss of consciousness are the most common signs of a concussion.
Severe TBI: Permanent Brain Damage
When a brain injury is more severe, permanent damage usually results. The effect on the victim varies depending on both severity and location of the initial injury. The impact of a severe traumatic brain injury on the life of the victim and his or her loved ones is often life-changing.
Severe TBI can result in cognitive deficits such as difficulty with:
- Language processing; either spoken, written or both
Sensory processing may be affected as well. TBI victims may suffer a partial or complete loss of vision, hearing, smell or taste. They may also suffer paralysis, loss of feeling in parts of the body, or develop seizures. Other physical, emotional and social changes may occur, often permanent.
Life After a Traumatic Brain Injury
After a TBI accident, you may be facing an uncertain future. Even a mild TBI can mean months of pain, disorientation and visits to the doctor. Your expenses pile up while you may be missing work to recover.
The repercussions of severe TBI are even more far-reaching. You could be facing one or more permanent disabilities and your life is forever changed. If your accident was because of someone’s careless or reckless actions, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost future earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury, no matter how minor, you may find it beneficial to speak with an experienced brain injury lawyer to help you get the justice you deserve.