Recognizing a Traumatic Brain Injury

Need an Attorney right now? You've come to the right place.
By Marcus Fernandez

A traumatic brain injury is unlike a broken bone or other injuries suffered by victims of motor vehicle or other accidents. A traumatic brain injury can cause dramatic changes to someone’s personality and impair sensory and cognitive functions. Recovery can be a slow, frustrating and uncertain process. There are more than 210,000 people living in Florida with the lingering effects of a traumatic brain injury, and 1.4 million people nationwide experience brain injuries each year. Following an accident, it’s important to monitor victims for the warning signs of traumatic brain injury to prevent further damage.

What is a traumatic brain injury?

Traumatic brain injury is classified by medical professionals as the disruption of the brain’s ability to function normally caused by some type of trauma. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe traumatic brain injury as a serious health issue. It can result in permanent disability or death. It is estimated that 30 percent of deaths caused by injury are the result of a traumatic brain injury.

A brain injury is classified by doctors as either mild or severe. Mild traumatic brain injury, commonly called a concussion, is characterized by a loss of consciousness or disorientation lasting fewer than 30 minutes. A person suffering a severe traumatic brain injury may lose consciousness for an extended period. They may also experience memory loss.

Causes of traumatic brain injury

Any blow, jolt or other trauma to the head can result in a traumatic brain injury, but the most common causes are motor vehicle accidents, falls and gunshot wounds. An injury to the brain caused by something penetrating the skull, such as a bullet or other object, is referred to as an open head injury.

Closed head injuries don’t penetrate the skull and could be caused by falling down, being tossed about in a vehicle during a crash or being hit in the head while participating in sports activities. A blow to the head can also be an intentional act when a person is the victim of an assault.

Traumatic brain injury may also occur because of the violent movement of a person’s head causing the brain to move within the skull. While the cause of the accident may vary, the sudden acceleration and deceleration can result in a severe injury. For instance, a head injury may occur when a car is rear-ended by another vehicle or a running football player is tackled by another player. The skull and different parts of the brain move at varying rates of speed causing damage to the brain.

Symptoms of traumatic brain injury

One of the dangers of a concussion or mild traumatic brain injury is the symptoms may go unnoticed at the time of the injury. If that individual were to suffer a second concussion before fully recovering from the first, they may experience a longer recovery and possible long-term functional impairment.

Physical symptoms warranting an examination and treatment for a mild traumatic brain injury include the following:

  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty maintaining balance
  • Tired and fatigued
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Changes in sleep patterns, including insomnia or sleeping more or less than usual
  • Impaired speech

Cognitive and personality symptoms associated with a concussion can include:

  • Impaired short-term memory  
  • Difficulty formulating thoughts
  • Impaired concentration
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Overwhelming sadness  
  • Depression

Parents who believe their child may have suffered a concussion should look for the same symptoms associated with mild traumatic brain injury in adults. Infants might cry and be inconsolable. They may also refuse to eat or nurse. Adults and children exhibiting concussion symptoms should be immediately evaluated by a physician.

A severe traumatic brain injury is associated with more damage to the brain than a person diagnosed with a concussion. In addition to symptoms displayed by someone with a concussion, an accident victim with a severe brain injury could be in a coma for an extended period.

Lasting effects of brain injuries 

Someone suffering a mild traumatic brain injury is typically required to rest, giving the brain adequate time to heal. With treatment, the individual usually recovers without long-term disability or impairment. During recovery, doctors and family members monitor the victim for signs of a worsening condition.

Severe traumatic brain injuries require more extensive courses of treatment, including hospitalization. Patients with a severe traumatic brain injury could experience difficulty breathing and require resuscitation. As the patient’s condition improves, doctors might recommend rehabilitation, medication and mental health counseling. These activities help treat any physical, cognitive and emotional disability and impairment experienced by the individual.

Obtaining compensation for brain injuries

The consequences of a traumatic brain injury are dramatic and potentially life-altering. When a car accident, slip-and-fall, or other incident is caused by the negligence of another party and results in a traumatic brain injury, you could be entitled to compensation. A personal injury lawyer is your best source of legal advice about making a claim for damages. Contact our team for immediate help with your personal injury case today.