What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Car accidents, falls, assaults and blows to the head can all result in traumatic brain injury, also known as a head injury.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines traumatic brain injury as “a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the function of the brain.”  It can occur when the head is suddenly and violently hit by an object or when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain tissue.  This type of injury is life-altering as it can lead to permanent physical or mental disability.

The CDC estimates that nearly 1.4 million people are victims of traumatic brain injury in the United States each year.  Among these victims, 50,000 die, 235,000 are hospitalized and 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency department.   The total cost associated with traumatic brain injury was $60 billion in the United States in 2000.

Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury, which accounts for 28 percent of all cases.  Car accidents also frequently result in traumatic brain injury, accounting for 20 percent of injuries.  Statistics show that males are almost 1.5 times as likely as females to sustain a traumatic brain injury.  The age groups, 0 to 4 years and 15 to 19 years, are at the greatest risk of becoming victims of traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
The symptoms of traumatic brain injury can range from mild to severe, depending on the damage to the brain.  A mild traumatic brain injury may only result in a temporary loss of consciousness.  Symptoms of a mild traumatic brain injury include:

• Headache
• Confusion
• Lightheadedness
• Dizziness
• Blurred vision
• Tired eyes
• Ringing in the ears
• Fatigue or lethargy
• Behavioral changes
• Trouble with memory, concentration or thinking

Moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries may show the same signs as a mild case, but could also include the following symptoms:

• Headache that gets worse or does not go away
• Repeated vomiting or nausea
• Convulsions or seizures
• Inability to awaken from sleep
• Dilation of one or both pupils
• Slurred speech
• Weakness or numbness in the extremities
• Loss of coordination
• Restlessness
• Confusion or agitation

Someone who experiences the symptoms associated with a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury should seek medical attention immediately. 

Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury
Nothing can be done to reverse the brain damage caused by a trauma, but measures can be taken to prevent further injury.  Medical personnel will focus on ensuring that adequate oxygen flow is going to the brain and the rest of the body, as well as sufficient blood flow.  The patient’s blood pressure will be closely monitored to make sure it does not go too high.

The doctor will order an imaging test, such as an x-ray, CT scan or MRI scan to determine the diagnosis and prognosis of the patient.  Almost half of the victims of traumatic brain injury will need to have surgery to remove or repair ruptured blood vessels and bruised brain tissue.  A medical provider may recommend a treatment program that could include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medicine, psychology and social support.

Compensation for Traumatic Brain Injury
When traumatic brain injury is the result of someone else’s negligence, the victim can pursue compensation for his or her injuries.  Compensation may be awarded to cover medical expenses, lost wages and other costs associated with the injury.  If you or a family member has been the victim of a traumatic brain injury resulting from a car accident or other event, contact Tavss Fletcher for a legal consultation at (757) 625-1214.