According to the CDC, traumatic brain injury is a significant cause of death and disability across the nation, contributing to about 30 percent of all injury deaths. In 2013, as many as 2.8 million people with traumatic brain injury-related symptoms were seen in emergency rooms or hospitalized, with about 50,000 people dying annually from a traumatic brain injury. Between the years 2001 and 2012, the rate of emergency room visits for sports and recreation-related TBI injuries among those 19 or younger, more than doubled. As you can see, traumatic brain injuries are much more common than most of us realize and can cause effects which last from a few days to a lifetime.
What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
When a person receives a bump, blow or jolt to the head which disrupts the normal brain functions, a traumatic brain injury may have occurred, although not every bump to the head will result in such an injury. Traumatic brain injuries can be relatively mild, moderate, or severe.
What are the Primary Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury?
The primary causes of traumatic brain injury include:
- Open head injuries (usually the result of a bullet wound or other act of violence);
- Closed head injuries with no skull penetration (usually the result of a slip and fall or a motor vehicle crash);
- Deceleration injuries which occur when the brain is slammed back and forth inside the skull, such as those which occur when a baby is violently shaken;
- Chemical or toxic injuries which occur when harmful chemicals damage the neurons in the brain, usually occurring from insecticide or solvent inhalation or carbon monoxide poisoning or lead poisoning;
- Lack of oxygen (hypoxia) which occurs when a person’s blood flow is deprived of oxygen;
- Brain tumors caused by cancer which can grow on or over the brain—even surgery to remove the tumor can, in some instances, result in traumatic brain injury, or
- A stroke which causes the cell death or bleeding in or over the brain.
Open head injuries such as those which result from an object penetrating into the skull can be just as serious as closed brain injuries. A closed head injury does not involve penetration to the skull but tends to render broader results than an open head injury, damaging the axons, which are the brain fibers which transmit neural signals. The larger the axon, the more quickly information is transmitted, therefore when the axons are damaged in a TBI, the person may find it extremely difficult to process information.
Our skulls are hard and stable while the brain has the consistency of gelatin, so it’s a very good thing that the brain is encased within the skull for protection. However, during an auto collision, if the head strikes a hard, immovable object, the brain will essentially slam into the skull, resulting in a direct brain injury caused by contusions and brain swelling. If the brain is knocked back and forth many times within the skull, it is alternately stretched and compressed. The neurons and axons can be stretched to the point that they tear, causing them to wither and die.
The CDC found that falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury, most often in the elderly and children. Being struck by or against an object is the second-leading cause of traumatic brain injury, accounting for about 15 percent of TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalization, and deaths. Motor vehicle crashes are the third-leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, followed by intentional self-harm.
Risk Factors for Traumatic Brain Injury
The CDC also found that deaths from traumatic brain injuries are the highest among those 75 years of age and older, usually from a fall. For those between the ages of 25 and 64, intentional self-harm was the most likely cause of a traumatic brain injury death, and for those between the ages of 5 and 24, a motor vehicle crash was the primary cause of traumatic brain injury death. Non-fatal traumatic brain injuries were also likely to be caused by a fall for every age group except those between the ages of 15 and 44—auto accidents were the primary cause of non-fatal brain injuries among this age group.
Severe Brain Injury vs. Mild Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injuries occur each and every day, and the results can be mild to severe. At the time of the accident, there may be obvious signs of head trauma such as bleeding at the site of an open wound, or less obvious damage from a closed head injury. While most of us think a concussion is nothing more than a mild inconvenience—and most of the time that holds true—a concussion can be much more serious, causing long-term and short-term memory loss or severe mood swings.
At the “worst case” end of the spectrum, a brain injury can leave the victim in a coma or unable to ever care for themselves or perform the most basic tasks. Less severe brain injuries can result in changes to the victim’s personality and chronic, severe pain. The manner in which a person acts, thinks, feels and even moves their body may be completely changed following a brain injury.
Depending on which lobe of the brain is most affected, the following functions may be altered following a severe traumatic brain injury:
- The ability to understand language;
- The ability to communicate;
- The level of overall motor skills;
- Visual perception;
- Behavior inhibition;
- Problem-solving abilities, and
- Spatial perception.
Memory loss, irritability, depression, anxiety and the inability to concentrate are also commonly seen among those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury. Among those with a severe traumatic brain injury, all these symptoms will be multiplied exponentially.
Aftermath of a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
Severe brain injuries can cause seizures, paralysis, coma and death. The consequences of a serious brain injury are life altering. The person with the TBI may be unable to function, perform their normal daily tasks or work, and, in many cases, will require round-the-clock care or special services.
Financial Fallout of a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
Severe traumatic brain injuries can result in medical bills which are truly staggering. The person who has suffered a TBI may need one or more of the following: speech, physical or occupational therapy, long-term medical care, rehabilitation, residential, custodial and supportive care, medications, and assistive technologies such as wheelchairs or specialized keyboards.
There may be a loss of earnings during rehabilitation, or a complete loss of future earning capacity. The high cost of TBI’s may make families wonder how they will cope with the medical bills and lost earnings. If you or someone close to you has suffered a TBI because of an auto accident, contact a knowledgeable personal injury attorney immediately. You need an advocate in your corner who has experience with traumatic brain injuries and will work hard to get you the settlement you need and deserve.
Finding the Solution for You and Your Loved Ones
Contacting an experienced St. Louis, Missouri concussion attorney is crucial following a traumatic brain injury. When a severe traumatic brain injury occurs—and that injury is directly tied to the negligence of another—the injured person deserves to be compensated for the resulting injuries. The attorneys at Finney Injury Law have a personal investment in each and every case, with a focus on finding effective legal, financial and health care solutions for the brain-injured person as well as his or her family members. We assess each traumatic brain injury case on an individual basis, offering real options which will allow you to receive full and fair financial compensation for your severe traumatic brain injury. Contact an experienced brain injury attorney from Finney Injury Law today.