Brain injuries, no matter how they occur, are one of the most devastating types of injuries that can occur. In addition to the initial trauma, brain injuries can cause lifetime consequences that affect every part of a person’s life. They are common and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cause more than 275,000 Americans to be hospitalized every year.
Injuries to the brain can be caused by external physical force that might be caused by a fall or vehicle accident, or by internal damage, such as a tumor or not enough oxygen reaching the brain. Brain injuries can affect a person’s cognitive or physical functioning, and these effects can be temporary or permanent, and vary in degree. Some people who suffer traumatic brain injuries lose total physical function while remaining alive, while others develop psychosocial issues or physical disabilities.
There are several different types of brain injuries, including:
- Skull fractures
Traumatic Brain Injury
When a person experiences a significant brain injury event it is known as Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). This condition describes a complex injury that triggers multiple symptoms and/or disabilities, and often results in a severe impact on a person’s life.
There are no official specific statistics on the number of TBI injuries that occur annually because this type of injury might not seem serious enough to seek medical attention, and even if medical attention is sought, it can be difficult to properly diagnose. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least one and a half million people in the United States experience a traumatic brain injury in any given year. More than 50,000 of these cases are fatal and nearly a million people suffer long-time disabilities. Currently, there are more than five million people in the United States who live with disabilities that resulted from TBI.
Traumatic brain injuries can be either mild or severe, but it should be noted that even mild TBI is serious and can have lasting effect on a person’s health and well-being. In the past, before there were many of the advanced medical capabilities doctors have today to treat TBI, brain injuries were often fatal. Despite what doctors are able to do for brain injuries today, the effects are still serious.
TBI is classified as mild when a person loses consciousness or experiences confusion or disorientation for less than 30 minutes. Doctors might order an MRI or CAT scan if TBI is suspected because of injury, or if a person reports difficulty thinking clearly, headaches, memory problems, issues with attention, or frustration or mood swings.
Severe TBI is diagnosed after a loss of consciousness of more than 30 minutes, as well as a memory loss. It can also be diagnosed if a person suffers a penetrating skull injury. Symptom of severe TBI range from impairment of high level cognitive functioning to being alive but in a comatose state.
In nearly every instance of severe TBI, assuming the patient lives, he or she suffers extreme, life-long symptoms, including loss of function of the arms and legs, abnormal speech, loss of thinking ability, and/or emotional problems.
Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury
Though TBI is often associated with impact injuries, there are many potential causes, including:
- Open head injuries, such as bullet wounds or penetration of the skull by some other object
- Closed head injuries, such as might occur from a slip and fall incident or vehicle crash
- Deceleration injuries that are caused when the skull comes into contact with a stationary object and the brain moves within the skull
- Chemical or toxic injuries that occur from a metabolic disorder or as a result of exposure to harmful chemicals
- Lack of oxygen injuries that often occur as a side effect of another medical emergency, such as a heart attack
- Infections, which can be viral or bacterial
The most common of these include slip and fall accident, firearm injuries, and car accidents, all of which are extremely preventable.
If you experience a brain injury after you are injured in an accident or incident, especially if it involved someone else’s negligence, you have a right to take legal action against the negligent party. Our goal is to help you learn more about the devastating and potentially lifelong effects of brain injuries and understand what you can do if you or a loved one is a victim.