According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injuries are a serious public health problem in the U.S., resulting in more than 2 million people requiring treatment at emergency departments, hospitalizations, or even death. In 2014, there were around 56,800 deaths related to traumatic brain injuries, including more than 2,500 child deaths. The consequences of a brain injury can involve the need for lifelong care. If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury due to the negligence of another person or company, let The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan help you to determine if you are eligible to receive compensation for your injuries.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
As explained by WebMD, a traumatic brain injury is one that is caused by an external force—such as a blow to the head—resulting in damage to the skull or movement of the brain inside the skull. This injury results in destruction or damage to the brain cells. Some brain injuries cause localized damage, which is damage to a small area of the brain. Others, however, result in diffuse brain damage, in which several areas of the brain are affected. While mild and moderate brain injuries pose a good chance of a full recovery, about 15 percent of those suffering even a mild brain injury will still be dealing with lingering symptoms a year after the injury occurs.
Males between the ages of 15 and 24 are most likely to suffer a traumatic brain injury. Also particularly vulnerable to this type of injury are children and elderly people. Some of the most common causes of traumatic brain injury include:
The symptoms of a brain injury fall into four categories:
- Cognitive: Difficulty processing information, expressing thoughts, or understanding others; a shortened attention span; memory loss; difficulties with effective decision-making; the inability to understand abstract concepts.
- Perceptual: The inability to sense time; spatial disorientation; changes to hearing, vision, or sense of touch; changes to one’s sense of smell or taste; loss of balance; increased sensitivity to pain.
- Physical: Headaches; extreme mental and physical fatigue; tremors or seizures; sensitivity to light; paralysis; slurred speech; loss of consciousness.
- Behavioral/emotional: Irritability; inability to manage stress; flattened or heightened emotions; aggressiveness; sluggishness.
How Are TBIs Diagnosed?
One common test used to diagnose traumatic brain injuries and determine their level of severity is the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), the Brain Injury Association of America reports. The GCS is typically conducted very early in the treatment process, and it evaluates and assigns points to the patient’s level of consciousness in three categories:
- Motor response: Does the patient follow commands? Is he or she responsive to painful stimulus? Does he or she withdraw from pain?
- Eye-opening: Are the patient’s eyes open? Do the patient’s eyes open as a response to voice or pain?
- Verbal response: Is the patient able to converse in an oriented way? Does he or she converse in a disoriented way? Is the patient able to produce words, though they may be inappropriate for the conversation at hand? Is the patient able to make sounds, though they may be incomprehensible?
The lower the GCS score, the more severe the brain injury. The five possible measures of the GCS include:
- Dead: Severe injury or death without recovery of consciousness
- Vegetative: Severe damage with a prolonged state of unconsciousness and an absence of higher mental functions
- Severely disabled: Severe injury with a permanent need for help with daily tasks
- Moderately disabled: No help is needed with daily tasks; employment is possible with special equipment.
- Good recovery: Light damage with minor psychological or neurological deficits
The GCS is a one-time test that can inform physicians of what treatment plan a patient will need. A doctor may order many other tests, depending on the injury.
What Are Some of the Long-Term Consequences of a TBI?
Regardless of the severity of the injury, a brain injury can derail all aspects of a person’s life. If the brain damage suffered took place in the frontal or temporal lobes, the individual may experience confusion, memory loss, poor reasoning or organizational skills, poor judgment, and disinhibition. There may be changes to the family dynamics, as well as severe financial implications, if the person suffering the injury was at least partially responsible for the family’s income.
Some of the long-term physical symptoms of a traumatic brain injury include:
- An increased likelihood of epilepsy
- Visual problems that may be permanent, including optic atrophy, which can begin shortly after a brain injury and can lead to blindness
- Chronic sleep disturbances
- The potential of a higher risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
- An increased risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which deteriorates memory, concentration, and attention, and also presents with a disturbed gait, lack of coordination, slurred speech, and tremors
- A higher risk of psychiatric disorders, including depression and anxiety
- Sexual dysfunction
- Muscle spasticity
- Skeletal dysfunction
- Permanently altered consciousness, including the patient being in a minimally conscious or vegetative state
- A higher risk of blood clots or stroke depending on the level of damage to blood vessels
- Profound intellectual deficits
- Pseudobulbar Affect, which is involuntary, sudden, and frequent bouts of laughing or crying
Let Us Help if You Sustained a Brain Injury in Brockton
Dealing with a brain injury is a significant adjustment for both the person who suffered the injury as well as others involved in his or her life. Brain injuries can take months or years to heal from, and many changes may be permanent. This is not the time to worry about how you’re going to finance the treatments necessary to have the best outcome possible or how you’re going to pay your bills.
If you or your loved one suffered a brain injury due to someone else’s neglect, let us help you understand the legal options that are available to you. For a free, no-obligation consultation and case review, contact The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan online or by calling (508) 588-0422.