Every year over a half million brain injuries occur. This article will help you understand the causes and symptoms of brain injury, treatment, statistics, and what you can do to protect your legal rights and collect money damages in the event you wrongfully suffer a brain injury.
In this Law Guide Article
Causes and symptoms of Brain Injury
According to the Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a head trauma that causes injury to the brain. This injury, also called a “closed brain injury”, can be caused by a sudden and violent blow to the head that does not pierce the skull. Open head brain injuries occur when an object pierces the skull and penetrates the brain tissue. A strike to the head can cause a concussion or bruising to the brain, even when the skull is not pierced.
A 2007 NINDS study states that the leading causes of TBI are falls (28%), motor vehicle accidents (20%), being struck by falling objects (19%), and physical assaults (11%). It can happen from a sudden blow to the head, violent movements to the head such as with shaken baby syndrome, or because of a lack of oxygen to the brain caused by a near drowning. Other causes are tumors, strokes, and the ingestion of toxins. The Department of Health and Human Services reports an annual estimate of 1.6 to 3.8 million brain injuries are caused by participation in sports related activities. High school football and soccer are responsible for most of the sports related brain injuries for high school boys and girls. For youths 5 to 18 years of age, the most common causes are football, basketball and playground accidents.
Symptoms of Brain Injury
Brain injuries can range from mild to severe, depending on the damage done to the brain. Those who suffer a mild brain injury most likely will not lose consciousness or suffer a loss of consciousness ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. Other symptoms of brain may include:
- Ear Ringing
- Trouble Sleeping
- Feelings of fatigue or lethargy
- A Bad Taste in the Mouth
- Being Confused or Disoriented
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Changes in Behavior or mood or personality changes
- Short-Term Memory Loss or Mental Lapses
- Blurred Vision, Double Vision, or Tired Eyes
- Trouble Concentrating or maintaining attention, or trouble thinking
Moderate or severe brain injury symptoms may include an extended period of unconsciousness and can also include experiencing any of the following:
- Extreme agitated states
- Feelings of restlessness
- Slurred speech pattern
- Severe confusion
- Loss of coordination
- Dilated pupils
- Vomiting and nausea
- Dilation of the Pupils
- Convulsions or Seizures
- Weak or numb arms or legs
Brain injuries can result in having a permanent diminished mental functioning or impairment in cognitive abilities or motor skills and immediate medical attention is necessary anytime someone experiences a head injury. Medical personnel will work to stabilize the person who has suffered a brain injury, ensuring that the patient gets adequate oxygen to the brain and that blood pressure is properly managed.
Victims of brain injuries will require certain diagnostic tests such as x-rays of the skull and neck to make sure there are no bone fractures and that the spine is stable. A CAT or Computed tomography scan will be done. These tests can produce several images that will allow the doctor to see inside the brain to assess the amount of damage.
Treatment for brain injuries can take a long time, can be difficult and can be costly. Victims must undergo demanding and extensive rehabilitation efforts. The therapeutic treatment is usually customized for each victim and can include such therapies as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and psychological therapies. Brain injury victims will also need a social support system as they undergo treatments to help keep them encouraged in their progress.
Statistics of Brain Injuries
NINDS studies in 2007 show that two thirds of documented brain juries occur mostly involving men between the ages of 17 and 25 years of age. This age group is more likely to take risks and engage in dangerous behaviors while driving or riding on motorcycles, dirt bikes, bicycles etc. Most brain injuries are commonly caused by vehicular accidents where trauma to the brain results. However, brain injuries are also a major public health problem that commonly affects those who fall and are older than 75 or are younger than 5 years old. In fact, statistics show that five million Americans have suffered incapacitating brain injuries that have left them with disabilities for the rest of their lives. Medical expenses for brain injuries in the United States are now reported to be over $56 billion annually.
Recent data in the United States concerning traumatic brain injuries (“TBI”) suggests:
- 1.4 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury in the US annually
- Fifty thousand brain injury related deaths
- 1.1 million require emergency room treatments
- 235,000 people hospitalized annually for TBI
For children 14 years old and younger
- 2,685 TBI deaths
- 37,000 TBI-related hospitalizations
- 435,000 emergency room treatments
Men are 1.5 times more likely than women to experience a brain injury. Women are harder to diagnose with brain injury, because they do no usually lose consciousness and their symptoms can be delayed. The ethnic group in America that has the highest death rate related to brain injuries is African-American. Detention facilities in the United States report that eighty seven percent of those incarcerated have had a previous head injury.
Taking Action and Recovering Money Damages for your Injury
Brain injury treatment can take a long time, be painful, difficult and very costly. If you have been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, contact a personal injury attorney specializing in TBI immediately – don’t wait. Each state has its own statute of limitation to file a personal injury lawsuit so timing is extremely important. Your attorney will be more informed on the laws surrounding traumatic brain injuries, its consequences and what kind of monetary compensation to which you may be entitled.