Brain Injury

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What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) happens when a sudden, external, physical assault damages the brain. It is one of the most common causes of disability and death in adults. TBI is a broad term that describes a vast array of injuries that happen to the brain. The damage can be focal (confined to one area of the brain) or diffuse (happens in more than one area of the brain). The severity of a brain injury can range from a mild concussion to a severe injury that results in coma or even death.

What Are the Different Types of Brain Injuries

Brain injury may happen in one of two ways:

Closed brain injury. Closed brain injuries happen when there is a non-penetrating injury to the brain with no break in the skull. A closed brain injury is caused by a rapid forward or backward movement and shaking of the brain inside the bony skull that results in bruising and tearing of brain tissue and blood vessels. Closed brain injuries are usually caused by car accidents, falls, and increasingly, in sports. Shaking a baby can also result in this type of injury (called shaken baby syndrome).

Penetrating brain injury. Penetrating, or open head injuries happen when there is a break in the skull, such as when a bullet pierces the brain.

What Causes Brain Injuries?

There are many ways a traumatic brain injury can happen:

  • Concussion
  • Assault
  • Car accident
  • Motorcycle accident
  • truck accident
  • Drug overdose
  • Sports such as boxing, hockey, lacrosse, and football
  • Recreational sports including motocross, off-road vehicles, rock climbing, or sky diving
  • Slip and falls
  • Stroke
  • Hemorrhage
  • Skull fracture
  • Firearm-related suicide
  • Passing out

What Are the Symptoms of a Brain Injury?

Depending on the severity of the injury, those who get a TBI may face health problems that last a few days or the rest of their lives. For example, a person with a mild TBI or concussion may experience short-term symptoms and feel better within a couple of weeks or months. And a person with a moderate or severe TBI may have long-term or life-long effects from the injury.

A mild traumatic brain injury may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Problems with speech
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears, a bad taste in the mouth or changes in the ability to smell
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes
  • No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented
  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Mood changes or mood swings
  • Feeling depressed or anxious
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleeping more than usual

A moderate to severe traumatic brain injury can include any of the signs and symptoms of mild brain injury, as well as these symptoms that may appear within the first hours to days after a head injury including:

  • Loss of consciousness from several minutes to hours
  • Persistent headache or headache that worsens
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes
  • Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
  • Inability to awaken from sleep
  • Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
  • Loss of coordination
  • Profound confusion
  • Agitation, combativeness or other unusual behavior
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma and other disorders of consciousness

A person with a possible brain injury should be seen by a healthcare provider as soon as possible.  If there is bleeding on the brain, that may not be immediately obvious.  

Who Is More Likely to Be Affected by a Brain Injury?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are certain groups that are more likely to be affected by brain injuries including:

  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • Service members and Veterans
  • People who experience homelessness
  • People who are in correctional and detention facilities
  • Survivors of intimate partner violence
  • People living in rural areas

Sherman Law is experienced in representing individuals with moderate to severe brain injuries.  Contact Sherman Law for a free case review, or for more information.

Baum Hedlund

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