In 2020, there were over 64,000 TBI-related deaths in the U.S., which is 176 deaths per day, and in 2019, there were 223,000 hospitalizations because of TBI-related injuries (Center for Disease Control & Prevention statistics). Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are injuries to a person’s head, skull, and/or brain that can affect how their brain functions.
In this article, we will discuss the types of TBIs (i.e. what causes them, symptoms, etc.). You may sustain a TBI in a negligent-based accident, including but not limited to a(n):
- Car accident
- Motorcycle accident
- Truck accident
- Slip and fall accident
- Instance of medical malpractice
- Domestic violence incident or assault
- Sports-related incident
- Explosion (most seen in veterans/service members)
A concussion (or mild TBI) can occur after you suffer a blow, jolt, or bump to your head or your head hits a hard surface or object; they can also occur after you are hit forcefully and your head and brain move quickly back and forth. When you suffer the hit, your brain can bounce around or even twist in your skull, which can lead to chemical changes or stretched or damaged cells in your brain.
Concussions are especially dangerous to those who have suffered them previously. After the incident that causes your injury, you may experience symptoms immediately. However, some symptoms (i.e. memory loss, concentration issues, extreme light sensitivity, or personality changes) will likely materialize days after the injury.
Coup & Contrecoup Injuries
When your brain makes an impact with your skull, there may be tearing of the lining, tissue, and//or blood vessels, which can result in internal bleeding or swelling. Bruises to the brain caused by a forceful impact to your head are known as coup or contrecoup injuries (or contusions). When your brain jolts backward and hits the skill on the opposite side, the bruising that forms is a contrecoup injury or lesion. Bruising suffered on the side of impact is referred to as a coup lesion or injury.
The location (i.e. frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, etc.) and severity of a coup-contrecoup TBI can impact how lasting the complications of the injury last. In serious cases, you can suffer brain death or may be in a coma. In other cases, you may suffer from permanent headaches, seizures, and other physical impediments that impact your quality of life. You may also require physical therapy or cognitive training.
Diffuse Axonal Injuries (DAIs)
Diffuse axonal injuries are caused by the shaking or aggressive rotation of the head by a strong force (i.e. car accident or collision). The impact results in your head whipping quickly; however, your brain doesn’t move as quickly, and the brain’s long central nerve fibers (axons) are stretched, torn, or damaged. If you suffer a DAI, you may become comatose or suffer other injuries in different parts of your brain (i.e. swelling, bleeding, etc.).
These injuries are categorized as Grade 1, Grade 2, or Grade 3 depending on their severity. To diagnose DAIs, doctors may perform/order the following tests: MRIs (which produce detailed images of the cross-sections of your brain), CT scans (which are basically detailed x-rays of your brain), SSEP or BAER (which look at the pathways in your brain), or an EEG (which measures the electrical activity in your brain). In mild forms, recovery is possible, and those who have suffered a mild case will likely suffer a few long-term issues. To treat those issues, you may require recreation, occupational, speech, and/or physical therapy.
A hematoma is essentially a bruise that forms when an injury causes blood to pool and collect under your skin. Hematomas can form between your brain and its lining or your skull and the lining of your brain. In either instance, they should be treated, because they apply pressure on your brain and can grow the longer they are untreated.
You can hemorrhage anywhere in your body. However, brain hemorrhages involve ruptured blood vessels causing bleeding within your brain, and the bleeding can kill brain cells. Symptoms vary based on the location of the bleeding. The course of treatment will also vary based on the severity; in serious cases, you will need surgery to relieve the pressure.
Second Impact Syndrome
If you have previously suffered a TBI, you are at risk of suffering from second impact syndrome (SIS). Because of your other head or brain injury (or injuries), your brain may swell shortly after you suffer a second or subsequent TBI. SIS can be fatal; in other cases, it can cause permanent disability.
General Symptoms of TBIs
Traumatic brain injuries are categorized based on their severity: mild, moderate, or severe. You may be suffering from a TBI (of any kind) if you have:
- Tinnitus (a buzzing or ringing sound in your ears)
- Memory loss
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Problems focusing
- Blurred or impaired vision
- Abnormal pupil dilation
- Abnormal restlessness or irritability
- Slurred speech
- Numbness in any of your limbs
If you lost consciousness at any point, hit or suffered a blow to your head, or have any of the aforementioned symptoms, be sure to tell the person who examines you. TBIs can have lasting impacts on your health and should be taken seriously. No matter how severe you think your injuries are—after an accident, immediately seek medical care. Once the adrenaline of an accident and its aftermath wears off, you may really start to feel certain injuries and bruises.
A doctor can examine you and warn you concerning symptoms that may develop in the coming days or weeks; they may even perform a CT or neurological exam (i.e. testing your reflexes, nerves, mental state, coordination, balance, autonomic nervous system, etc.) to better diagnose you.
Get Legal Help
Depending on how long they last and their severity, TBIs can have lasting impacts on your daily life and quality of life as they can affect your mobility, moods, sleeping patterns, and more. If you or a loved one suffer a TBI, you may also suffer financially, and emotionally. While money cannot give you back your life nor does it excuse the negligent party’s actions, we can work tirelessly to help you pursue compensation that can ease the financial strain of your injuries and get access to the care you need.
If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury in a negligence-based incident, contact Fitzpatrick Mariano Santos Sousa P.C. today. Call (203) 583-8299 to speak with a member of our team.