Traumatic brain injury (TBI), a specific kind of head injury, happens when the brain is damaged by external mechanical force, such as an impact, rapid acceleration or deceleration within the cranium, or penetration by a foreign object. TBI is a leading cause of disability and death around the world, particularly for children and young adults. Some of the most common instances of TBI occur in motor vehicle accidents, sports and recreation injuries, work-related accidents, falls, explosions, incidents of domestic violence/child abuse, and firearm injuries.
The resulting brain injuries that occur can vary widely in their severity, the type of damage caused, and the symptoms one experiences. No two brain injuries are alike and even similar injuries may entail very different consequences. The severity of the injury can often be mitigated by prompt medical treatment within the first hour following the injury. Mild TBI can entail temporary loss of consciousness, headache, vomiting and nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, poor motor control, and fatigue. Sufferers may also exhibit cognitive or emotional symptoms such as confusion, memory loss, difficulty in thinking, and changes in mood.
More severe TBI cases can result in continued headaches and vomiting/nausea, pupil dilation, confusion, slurred speech, muscle weakness and numbness, and agitation. Long-term symptoms include behavioral problems (particularly depression), social judgment deficits, and most commonly, cognitive deficits in one’s processing speed, ability to engage in abstract reasoning, problem solving, and multitasking, and sustaining attention. Vascular problems, movement disorders, and hormonal disorders can also arise as a result of TBI.
Part of the difficulty of TBI is that brain damage is not just caused at the moment of injury. Oftentimes, it is this subsequent secondary aspect of brain trauma, which can entail changes in blood flow, pressure, and biochemistry inside the skull and occurs in the minutes and days after the primary injury, that causes some of the most significant damage to the brain.
Generally, TBI is diagnosed through neurological examination and use of radiologic tests such as CT scans, and, subsequently, MRI. Once diagnosed, the particular treatment modalities used depends on the severity and stage of the injury. Treatment for moderate to severe TBI in the acute stage generally takes place in intensive care units and can involve surgery. Treatment for chronic stage TBI focuses on rehabilitation therapies on both inpatient and outpatient bases.
Since motor vehicle accidents are a major cause of TBI, public safety and crash prevention laws regarding speed limits, seat belts, and helmet usage can help to reduce the number and severity of TBI incidents. Recently, youth sports laws have also been passed to ameliorate the problem of athletics-related TBI. In Washington, the 2009 Zackery Lystedt Law, one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the nation, requires medical clearance of youth athletes suspected of sustaining a concussion before they are allowed to resume their activities. Oregon has similar stipulations for a medical release following a concussion or suspected concussion before student athletes can return to play.
If you or a loved one has experienced a traumatic brain injury through the fault or negligence of another party, please contact me to set up a free consultation to discuss your potential legal options. I understand that not only does TBI cause physical, cognitive, and emotional trauma for the injured person in the short and long-term, but that it can also place profound stress and strain on families. I can help you recover the costs of your medical treatment, lost wages, as well as obtain compensation for future medical costs lost potential earnings, and your pain and suffering.
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