A traumatic brain injury is different than other traumatic injuries. It is an injury to the brain typically the result of a blow, jolt, or collision to the head. The medical costs associate with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), both directly and indirectly, total an estimated $60 billion in the United States.
According to the Center for Disease Control, an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States experience TBI per year. The long-term recovery from a traumatic injury of any sort, let alone a brain injury, can take a lot of time, effort, and medical treatment.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
So, what exactly is TBI and what are the long-term problems associated with this condition? A traumatic brain injury is different than other traumatic injuries. It is an injury to the brain typically the result of a blow, jolt, or collision to the head.
In this type of circumstance, your brain touches your skull which leads to bruising, bleeding, and brain and nerve cell damage. The brain may actually move back and forth in the skull which causes damage at multiple points.
Because the brain is a complex organ dependent on nerves and connections we do not know everything about, an injury to this system affects the entire body. For example, as you read this article your eyes are sending and receiving messages to and from your brain to read, decode, and process the information you see.
Children under the age of 4 and adults 75 and older are in the two groups most susceptible to TBI. While there is no way to predict TBI, taking precautions with adults and children in these age groups is highly recommended to prevent injury.
What Causes a Traumatic Brain Injury?
With the advent of fast cars, harmful weapons, and more contact sports, the number of diagnosed TBIs has increased. The causes of a traumatic brain injury are usually apparent when you look back on a series of events. Some of the most common causes of a TBI are:
- Car Accidents
- Car Accidents with a Pedestrian or Bicyclist
- Gunshot Wounds
- Open Head Injuries
- Blasts from Explosions
- Combat Injuries
- Domestic Violence
- Child Abuse including Shaken Baby Syndrome
- Contact Sports
It is important to know that a TBI is caused by an external force, not from a medical condition like a stroke. A TBI is largely characterized by being an accident.
Can TBI be Prevented?
You cannot live your life in fear of injury to yourself or to your child but there are responsible choices that can be made to prevent TBI. For example, always wear a helmet when on a motorcycle (even if not required by law) and suit up your children in protective gear during sports and other outdoor play.
A few simple ways to prevent a TBI include wearing a seat belt when in the car, never combine alcohol use with driving, and always wear a helmet when this simple precaution is recommended.
If you have a young child or an aging family member, minor changes to a home can prevent falls and other accidents. Simple additions like non-slip mats in the bathtub, handrails on the stairs, and floors cleared of clutter can save your loved one from serious harm.
What Symptoms Do You Experience with a TBI?
The CDC reports that nearly 80% of people suffering a TBI are treated in an emergency room and sent home. Symptoms of a TBI are not always obvious right away and can develop within the first several hours all the way through several weeks later.
When you are in doubt, seek treatment for a TBI (even if you have already gone to an emergency room) because it is better to be too cautious about your health than disregard the symptoms. It is possible to experience a TBI without losing consciousness.
What are the Long-Term Effects of TBI?
An injured brain does not perform like a normal brain. The brain will have difficulty carrying messages to the body which can result in changes in thinking, actions, feelings, and movement. Even the changes to the systems we take for granted every day, like regulation of body temperature, can fail.
Each area of the brain has a very specific function; therefore, depending on the area and extent of the damage dictates the side effects you will experience. If the injury is scattered throughout the brain, then the impairment will likely be more severe. Some of the common side effects in the long-term and short-term can be:
- Impaired Logic
- Increased Depression and Anxiety
- Decreased Control over One or Both Sides of the Body
- Trouble Remembering Words
- Difficulty Sustaining Attention
- Problems Concentrating on Tasks
- Slower Thinking, Speaking, and Problem Solving
- Confusion with Normal Routines
- Impulsive Responses and Reaction to Small Issues
- Decreased Creative Thinking
- Adapting to Normal Life Changes
- Increased Dependent, Aggressive, and Lethargic Behaviors
- Decreased Inhibitions
- Misunderstanding Social Situations
- Loss in Field of Vision
- Disconnection in Visuals and Perceptions
- Balance Problems and Ringing in the Ears
How is a TBI Treated and is Recovery Possible?
Every case is different and the long-term effects can also drastically vary. Some patients are able to regain functioning in certain categories while others never seem to recover from their initial symptoms.
Just like with every medical condition, an individual assessment is the only way to determine if recovery is even possible. Treatment of TBI typically involves initial care, rehabilitation, acute treatment, and surgical treatment.
After the accident happens and a TBI is diagnosed, health care providers and physicians will try to contain the problem through stabilization of the brain and body. Depending on the intensity of the problem, surgery may be needed.
In the worst cases, acute treatment will be needed while the patient recovers. Acute treatment keeps the person alive, minimizes agitation, and can involve in a medically-induced coma.
Treatment after TBI may involve time spent in a rehabilitation center for recovery. In this place, the injured party will be evaluated and given assistance relearning certain functions.
Rehab is also valuable to families and caregivers because they are taught about the emotional and physical burden of care. Understanding role changes and planning for the future is important with every TBI patient.
Contact an Attorney Today
When you are in doubt, seek treatment for a TBI because it is better to be too cautious about your health than disregard the symptoms. Each area of the brain has a very specific function so depending on the area and extent of the damage dictates the side effects you will experience. If the injury is scattered throughout the brain, the impairment will likely be more severe.
If you are worried about your future and the future of your family because someone you love has experienced a traumatic brain injury, contact the Fetterman legal team for a free evaluation.We can help you understand your options and get the coverage you deserve. Give us a call today at 561-845-2510.