Traumatic Brain Injuries and Potential Long-Term Effects
Traumatic brain injury is a national epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control states that every 21 seconds, somebody in the U.S. sustains a traumatic brain injury. This equates to 4,100 people each day, or 1.7 million each year. For 52,000 people, the injuries sustained prove to be fatal, and for another 275,000, they are serious enough to require hospitalization. It’s estimated that 80,000 people sustain a lifelong disability from traumatic brain injuries each year in the United States.
In the state of Texas alone, 140,000 people suffer a traumatic brain injury each year – that’s one every four minutes. Close to 400,000 people live with a disability resulting from a traumatic brain injury, with 5,700 Texans developing permanent disabilities due to traumatic brain injuries each year. As research on the long-term effects of brain injury has progressed, the medical community has come to recognize that traumatic brain injury is not simply a single event injury that heals without long term consequences, but rather it sets in motion a disease process in the brain that progresses over the course of the person’s lifetime.
What’s the Difference between an Acquired Brain Injury and a Traumatic Brain Injury?
There are two major causal classifications of brain injuries; acquired brain injury and traumatic brain injury. An acquired brain injury is an injury caused by a medical issue such as a stroke, an aneurysm, pressure from a developing tumor, the contraction of an infectious disease that affects the brain, or other health conditions. A traumatic brain injury is an injury resulting from trauma to the brain. Traumatic brain injuries can be caused by a blow to the head, a forceful jolt, or even the forces from a blast or explosion. This can cause the brain to move abruptly and strike the rough bony internal surface of the skull or otherwise move forcefully in a way that causes injury to the brain. Traumatic brain injuries can be penetrating, meaning an object pierces the skull and enters the brain, or non-penetrating, generally meaning that a force abruptly jolts the brain inside the skull without producing an external wound.
Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury is usually caused by a blow to the head, or some other kind of force that causes the brain to suddenly and abruptly move from side to side inside the skull and/or in a torsional, twisting fashion. This can result in brain bleeding, brain swelling and structural damage to the brain including what is known as diffuse axonal injury. Some of the most common events that cause traumatic brain injuries include the following:
-Falls: Though more common with young children and older adults, falls are the leading cause of TBIs nationwide. The CDC estimates that in 2013, 1,320,411 people suffered traumatic brain injuries caused by a fall. People can sustain a traumatic brain injury by falling from high places such as a roof, scaffold or ladder, down stairs, or as a result of a slip and fall that may happen in a store, at work, or at home.
-Car and Truck Accidents: Car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents and pedestrian accidents are a common cause of traumatic brain injury. A study done by the CDC found that motor vehicle accidents cause as many of one-fourth of all traumatic brain injury-related hospitalizations, while another found they are the leading cause of death among TBI-related fatalities for people between the ages of 15 and 34.
-Explosive Blasts: Explosions are a common cause of brain injury for oilfield workers, offshore workers, refinery workers, chemical plant workers and military personnel. During an explosion, primary blast waves can exert forces on the brain without penetrating the skull causing brain injury. A person can also be struck by flying debris, shrapnel, or be thrown by the force of the blast. In addition to traumatic brain injuries, workers face the risk of burn injuries, amputations, paralysis, and other catastrophic bodily injuries from explosions.
-Sports Injuries: The CDC estimates that 283,000 children seek emergency care for recreation and/or sports-related traumatic brain injury each year. Some of these are mild traumatic brain injuries, also known as concussions, while others are more serious. Of those, they approximate that 45% of the hospital visits are due to injuries sustained in contact sports such as football, basketball, soccer, and hockey. In addition to high-impact sports, injuries may be caused by other activities as well, such as limited contact sports, non-contact sports, and other recreational activities.
Most Common Symptoms of TBIs
The symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can vary depending on its severity. Some of the potential symptoms that someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury can experience include:
Physical Symptoms: Traumatic brain injury victims can experience a variety of physical symptoms because of their injury. This can include anything from headaches and migraines, blurred vision, nausea and vomiting, light and noise sensitivity, speech problems, balance and coordination issues, drowsiness, exhaustion and fatigue, and endocrine system decline. In severe cases, people who have suffered a traumatic brain injury can experience blood vessel damage in the brain (which could lead to strokes, blood clots, etc.), swelling of the brain leading to increased intercranial (inside the skull) pressure, , seizures, and paralysis.
Mental/Cognitive Symptoms: People who have suffered a traumatic brain injury can feel as if everything around them has slowed down. Other symptoms include “brain fog” or confusion, difficulty concentrating, both short term and long-term memory issues, recall and information processing, problem-solving, and thinking clearly. They may also struggle to follow and participate in conversations, speak and write, and understand speech and writing. Still other victims develop sleep disorders after their injuries including sleeping more or less than usual, as well as have trouble falling asleep.
Emotional Symptoms: Victims of traumatic brain injury have been known to experience mood-related symptoms. These can include irritability, sadness, anger, depression, anxiety, and feeling more emotional than usual. Some victims struggle with social situations, have difficulty with self-control, lack awareness, and suffer from verbal and physical outbursts following their injury.
If you suspect that you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury, it is important that you seek medical attention right away.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury because of someone else’s negligence, you need a lawyer who has experience in handling brain injury cases. The Callahan Law Firm has a history of successfully representing individuals and their families in traumatic brain injury cases. We offer consultations free of charge. Contact our Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyers today to see how we can help. Call us at 713-224-9000, or fill out our contact form here.