What you Should Know About Traumatic Brain Injuries
Few things can change – or end – a life as quickly as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). TBIs play a role in nearly a third of injury deaths in the United States. More than 150 people die every day as a result of these devastating injuries, which works out to more than 50,000 fatalities annually. TBIs send roughly 2.5 million Americans to the emergency room every year. Even those who survive these traumatic injuries can be forced to deal with lifelong health problems.
The Centers for Disease Control defines TBIs as any “bump, blow, or jolt” to the head that interrupts the brain’s normal operations. These injuries are classified as either mild or severe. TBIs come in a few different forms, such as:
- Concussion: By far the most common of TBIs, concussions are mild injuries that can stretch the blood vessels in the brain and damage the cranial nerves.
- Contusions: These bruises – and bleeding – of the brain can be either mild or severe.
- Coup-Contrecoup Injury: These are contusions on two parts of the brain: at the point of impact, and on the opposite side.
- Diffuse Axonal Injury: These wounds are a result of either shaking or strong rotations of the head, or by a sharp rotational movement.
- Penetration Wound: This occurs when an object fractures the skull, enters the brain and damages the tissue.
- Anoxic Event: This occurs when the brain suffers a sudden deprivation of oxygen.
- Recurrent Traumatic Brain Injury: This is simply any additional brain injury that occurs before an earlier one has completely healed.
What Causes Traumatic Brain Injury?
There are several incidents that can lead to a Traumatic Brain Injury, but CDC data highlights a few events that are responsible for roughly three-quarters of all cases:
- Falls: Falls account for almost half of all TBIs that lead to an ER visit, hospitalization, or death. Alcohol and prescription drugs frequently lead to falls. Unsafe playground equipment and ill-equipped nursing homes are two examples of easily preventable fall risks.
- Struck by (or against) an object: A hit to the head is the second-leading cause of TBIs, making up 15 percent of head injuries that send victims to the hospital or the morgue. Sports injuries typically fall into this category. The sports and activities most likely to lead to one of these injuries include bicycling, football, playground activities, basketball, and soccer. Violence against someone falls into this category, as well.
- Motor vehicle accidents: Auto accidents rank third among the leading causes of TBI incidents. Rollovers, ejections, and a collision that forces an occupant’s head against the steering wheel, windshield, an object, or another passenger can all lead to head injuries. Whiplash can also cause brain injuries that can go undetected.
If someone you love is suffering from a serious brain injury – or you suspect they might be – get them to a medical facility immediately. This is not the type of injury you want to ignore or leave untreated. And if you think this injury occurred because of someone else’s negligence, you need to speak with a Denver injury lawyer right away.
TBIs Do Not Discriminate
TBIs can strike anyone at any time, but some age groups are at greater risk for certain types of injuries than others. Generally speaking, small children, older teens, the elderly, and military personnel are at the highest risk.
- Young children: Children four and under are prone to falls, and more likely to be victims of abuse, which can include Shaken Baby Syndrome. In fact, assaults are the leading cause of TBI fatalities for this age group. Auto accidents are also a leading contributor of TBIs for younger children. You can help mitigate these risks by child-proofing your home, carefully screen potential caregivers, and follow the direction about the proper use of vehicle child restraints.
- Teenagers: Auto accidents, typically involving inexperienced drivers, are the leading cause of fatal TBIs and hospitalizations for this age group. High school sports present another high injury risk for older teens.
- The Elderly: People 75 years old and older are more likely to hurt themselves during a fall than any other age group. Older Americans who suffer TBIs also are most likely to end up in the hospital. Nursing homes and other full-time caregivers can help mitigate this risk by keeping walkways free of tripping hazards while providing adequate supervision.
Symptoms that Could Indicate a TBI
One of the scariest things about brain injuries is that victims can appear perfectly normal. Someone can be seriously injured yet show no outward indication that anything is wrong. According to the CDC, there are several warning signs to look for if you think you or a loved one may have suffered a TBI. These symptoms can include:
- Headaches, which can linger or get worse.
- Weakness, numbness or fumbling coordination.
- Chronic vomiting and persistent nausea.
- Slurred speech.
- Extreme drowsiness or an inability to wake up fully.
- Pupils that are dilated or different sizes.
- Convulsions and/or seizures.
- Confusion, including an inability to recognize people and/or places.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Dizziness or balance problems.
- Difficulty moving or swallowing.
- Vision changes.
- Ringing ears.
- Extreme irritability.
Children who have suffered a TBI can also exhibit a loss of appetite and may laugh or cry uncontrollably.
Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury
TBIs affect people differently. Some TBI patients will make a full recovery. Others will be forced to live with a lifelong disability. Those who go on to live an independent life could still suffer a diminished earning capacity due to cognitive, emotional, or physical impairment, or simply due to education and work experience that’s been lost during recovery.
The CDC reports that TBIs can make dramatic changes to someone that alters their thinking, senses, language ability, and emotions. TBIs also can lead to post-concussion syndrome, behavioral and personality changes, and epilepsy, while putting victims at a greater risk for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other brain conditions later in life.
We understand how debilitating – and frightening – a brain injury can be, and the lasting impact it can have on a person’s life. If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury or lost a loved one in a violent accident, call our Denver personal injury lawyers today at 303-792-5595 or fill out our Case Evaluation form right now to speak with us for free.