Any sharp blow, sudden impact, or wound that penetrates the skull can result in traumatic brain injury. Recent sports media coverage makes the point that brain damage is cumulative. Even mild impacts over a period of time can cause TBI. These injuries disrupt normal functioning of the brain. They can cause various damaging effects on the brain and other body functions. Serious injuries often result in permanent losses in intellectual capacity and cause physical disabilities. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that there are over 1.4 million brain injuries annually. Of these, over 200,000 victims of TBI are hospitalized; 50,000 of those hospitalized die of their injuries.
Causes of TBI
The same CDC report isolates the common causes of TBI as
• Falls and being struck by heavy objects
• Car, truck and motorcycle crashes
• Gunshot wounds
• Sports injuries
Symptoms of TBI
There is a particular danger to TBI in that there is often no obvious injury. In any accident or situation where the head is struck, close observation is critical. Any loss of consciousness, even momentarily, necessitates a visit to medical facilities. Even if an individual tries to “shake off” a blow to the head, it is important to keep an eye on them for several hours. Symptoms to watch for include disorientation, dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Vomiting is common shortly after the head impact. Mild symptoms may persist for 24 hours.
If observed symptoms increase in severity, it is appropriate to visit an emergency room. Less common symptoms may affect any of the senses and include emotional responses to situations and memory loss. It can take one to two weeks for the brain to heal itself from a mild injury. Mild symptoms may persist during this time. One of the most detailed lists of symptoms is published by the New York Times.
If a young child or elderly individual is struck on the head, observation is especially important. These victims may not be able to recognize the symptoms of a serious injury. Due to the potential long term consequences, it is best to seek medical attention if there is any question of the extent of injury.
Medical Diagnosis of TBI
If admitted to a hospital, doctors will continue with close observation of vital signs. If not an open wound, there is little immediate treatment available. Steps may be taken to lessen pressure on the brain due to swelling or internal bleeding of the brain. These steps will range from specialized medicines to surgery.
After immediate treatment, time will be allowed for the swelling to decrease. The brain will also work to heal itself. Specialists in brain injuries will then begin a process of careful assessment of the extent of the damage. There are a number of standardized diagnostic tools, including the Disability Rating Scale and the Functional Independence Measure. There are very limited direct medical treatments for TBI. The focus of these efforts is the development of comprehensive rehabilitation and therapy programs.
Ongoing Financial Impact of TBI
Over 5 million Americans live with various disabilities caused by TBI. The costs of caring for victims of TBI are a function of the extent of the injury. Secondary medical complications are often involved with car of TBI victims. The significant ongoing costs of care for TBI are commonly addressed with attempts to recover damages under a state’s personal injury laws. There are competent attorneys that understand the impact of TBI and the costs associated with its treatment and long term care.
This piece was composed by Travis Leary, a freelancer who often contributes useful material on topics such as law, medical science, personal injury, and other subjects. Those who need assistance if they know of someone with a Traumatic Brain Injury should contact a firm with extensive experience in this subfield of law.
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