By Marcus Fernandez
More than 5.3 million adults and children living in the United States have a permanent disability related to a brain injury. It is estimated that the number of people living in Florida with some form of disability caused by a brain injury is at least 260,000, yet the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA) cautions that despite its prevalence, brain injury continues to be a misdiagnosed and misunderstood injury. And so many people never even pursue a brain injury claim.
The BIAA campaign, #MoreThanMyBrainInjury, promotes increased public awareness of brain injury as a chronic condition and addresses the stigma associated with brain injury. The BIAA leads the nation in observing Brain Injury Awareness Month in March each year. It offers a timely opportunity to join the conversation and talk about what you need to know when preparing a brain injury claim on behalf of yourself or a loved one.
What is a brain injury?
It is impossible to overstate the vital role performed by the brain. It controls every function of your body and everything you think, say, feel or do. When injured, the consequences may range from a slight headache or momentarily impaired memory to death.
There are two types of brain injuries. One of them, a traumatic brain injury or TBI, is defined under Florida law as an injury caused by external trauma to the skull, brain or protective membrane covering the brain causing one or a combination of the following:
- An altered state of consciousness.
- Anatomic deficit.
- Behavioral deficit.
- Motor deficit.
- Sensory deficit.
- Cognitive deficit.
The other type of injury to the brain is a non-traumatic injury, which is also referred to as an acquired brain injury or ABI. Instead of external factors, such as a blow to the head, that cause a TBI, an ABI is caused by internal factors, such insufficient oxygen to the brain, a stroke or a brain tumor.
Some of the common types of trauma that may cause injury to the brain include the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents.
- Sports and recreation activities.
- Work-related accidents and injuries.
In addition to infections and diseases, a non-traumatic injury to the brain may be caused by exposure to toxic and dangerous substances, including carbon monoxide and lead. An ABI may also be the result of an electrical shock.
Recognizing the symptoms of a brain injury
The symptoms of an injury to the brain may not appear right away. It may take hours or even days for symptoms to become apparent to you or even to the doctors who examine you. Some of the common symptoms you may experience after suffering a mild injury to the brain, which is commonly known as a concussion, may include:
- Impaired speech.
- Blurred vision.
- Sensitivity to light or loud noises.
- Momentary loss of consciousness.
- Experience mood swings.
- Depression or anxiety.
- Unable to sleep or sleeping more than usual.
The severity of the symptoms increases with the amount of damage caused by the trauma and may include:
- Loss of consciousness lasting from minutes to hours.
- Headaches that persist and worsen over time.
- Pupil dilation in one or both eyes.
- Numbness or weakening in toes and fingers.
- Confusion, agitation and other behaviors.
Severe brain injuries may make it difficult for a victim to wake up from sleep and may also result in a coma.
It is important to monitor symptoms rather than relying on the presence of signs of an injury to identify whether you or a loved may have suffered a brain injury. For example, a news story
about accidents on Tampa roads decreasing included mention of a 7% increase in speeding. Speed increases the force of the impact when vehicles collide, which can cause violent movement of a vehicle occupant’s head. This may, in turn, cause damage as the brain moves within and strikes against the skull. While there might not be outward bruising or other signs of injury, the victim needs to be watched for symptoms of a brain injury.
What to do if you suspect that you or a family member suffered a brain injury
it is essential that a doctor evaluates you if you suspect brain injury. Just because you do not have physical signs of an injury to your head does not mean that you are all right. Through their training and the use of diagnostic imaging, such as MRIs and CAT scans, doctors may prevent a brain injury from worsening when left undiagnosed and not promptly treated.
Speak with a Tampa personal injury attorney
You may be entitled to compensation if a negligent party caused you to suffer a brain injury. A consultation with a Tampa personal injury attorney can provide advice, guidance and options for pursuing a brain injury claim for damages against the negligent party. Call to speak to an experienced Kinney, Fernandez, and Boire Lawyer or fill out this form to get a free case evaluation.