Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
ABOUT THIS CASE
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the term used to describe the damage to the brain suffered as a result of a sudden physical force.
The human brain consists of billions of microscopic fibers, suspended in cerebrospinal fluid. While the exterior skull is smooth, the inner surface contains ribbing and pronounced bony structures. Impact with these inner surfaces of the skull causes tearing and bruising that results in brain damage.
Injuries occur when momentum of the brain causes it to impact against a skull that has been decelerated.
Typically, TBI is caused by the impact of the head with an object, such as when hitting a windshield or the dashboard of a car. In such cases, the injury is considered to be a closed head injury. A closed head injury also may occur when the brain undergoes a severe forward or backward shaking, such as with infants who are mishandled or in cases involving whiplash suffered during an automobile accident. Closed head injuries present unique challenges in litigation since they often will demonstrate no obvious external symptoms of injury, even though the damage to the brain can be severe.
A traumatic brain injury can also be caused by a penetrating head injury, whereby an object such as a bullet penetrates through the skull and into the brain.
TBI does not refer to brain injuries or defects that are hereditary, congential or degenerative, or induced by birth trauma, toxic substances, or disease-producing organisms.
Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury
Though closed head injuries are not objectively apparent at the time of an accident, common indications of an injury are loss of consciousness, inability to recall events immediately before or after the accident, and alteration in mental state immediately following, such as feeling dazed, disoriented, or confused. After an accident, common symptoms of a traumatic brain injury in adults may be any of the following:
- persistent neck pain
- ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- lapses in attention, perception, judgment, or information processing
- difficulty with memory, concentration, or decision making
- trouble with cognition, abstract concepts, and time and space relationship
- limitations on reading and writing skills
- slowness in thinking, speaking, or taking action
- getting lost or easily confused
- persistent low-grade headaches
- feeling tired all the time, lacking energy or motivation
- problems associated with sleep, such as insomnia or oversleeping
- reduced strength, endurance, and coordination
- onset of tremors or swallowing problems
- feeling light-headed or dizzy
- onset of seizures
- volatility in your mood – apathy, irritability, anxiety, and/or depression
- difficulty maintaining your balance
- increased sensitivity to sounds, light, or distractions
- blurred vision
- reduction of sense of smell or taste
Because children are less aware of their habits and normal functioning than adults, it is important for adults to monitor children carefully if it is suspected that they are suffering from a TBI. Symptoms to look for in children include:
- loss of energy or tiring easily
- reduced interest in favorite toys or activities
- irritability or crankiness
- changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- changes in the manner in which the child plays, both alone and with others
- difficulties at school
- deterioration of recently learned skills
- loss of balance, or instability while walking
The exact effects on an individual who suffers a brain injury will vary greatly, depending on the force of impact the brain suffered and the location(s) of the injury on the brain. It is important to obtain a thorough medical examination following any accident so as to immediately determine all injuries received. To appreciate the extent of an injury, it is helpful to understand medical scales used to measure injuries involving TBI.
The Glasgow Coma Scale rates a patient’s ability to open his/her eyes, and respond to verbal commands and responses. Each level of response indicates the degree of brain injury.
Open to verbal command
Open to pain
Best motor response to a verbal command
Obeys verbal command
Best motor response to painful stimulus
Flexion – withdrawal
Flexion – abnormal
Best verbal response
Oriented and converses
Disoriented and converses
The lowest score is a 3 and indicates no response from the patient. A person who is alert and oriented would be rated at 15.
The care of trained professionals is key to not only coping with a traumatic brain injury, but also in reaching an appropriate diagnosis. Clinical evaluations are key, as many traumatic brain injuries do not show up on radiology tests like a broken bone.
Using national data from 1995-2001, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), a federal research agency, estimates that 1.4 million people sustain a TBI in the United States each year:
- 1.1 million people are treated and released from hospital emergency departments
- 235,000 people are hospitalized and survive
- 50,000 people die
The leading causes of TBIs are:
- Falls (28%);
- Motor vehicle-traffic crashes (20%);
- Struck by/against events (19%); and
- Assaults (11%)
Outcome The severity of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) may range from “mild” (a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury). An estimated 5.3 million Americans are living today with a TBI-related disability and require help performing daily activities. TBIs can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking, sensation, language, or emotions.
About 75% of TBIs that occur each year are concussions or other forms of mild TBIs. Repeated mild TBIs occurring over an extended period of time (i.e., months, years) can result in cumulative neurological and cognitive deficits. Repeated mild TBIs occurring within a short period of time (i.e., hours, days, or weeks) can be catastrophic or fatal.
The costs to TBI victims are staggering. There is no way to fully describe the human costs of traumatic brain injury and the burdens borne by those who are injured and their families. Only a few studies of the monetary costs of these injuries are available. According to one study conducted in 2006, direct medical costs and indirect costs such as lost productivity from TBIs totaled an estimated $60 billion in the United States.
Don’t Hesitate: Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
In any case, especially those that involve a Traumatic Brain Injury, it is imperative that the proper steps are taken to quickly to preserve evidence, prove the nature and extent of your injuries, and to enable expert medical witnesses to support the cause of your injuries.
If you or a loved one has suffered what you believe may be a traumatic brain injury from an accident, call Brotman Nusbaum Ibrahim & Adelman now at (888) 661-6266 or submit our form for a free case review. Don’t delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.
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