Any injury can be terrible. Injuries can debilitate even the strongest person. In most cases, the essence of the person with a physical injury remains the same before and after it occurs, but isn’t always the case with traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 1.5 million people in the United States suffer from one of the two types of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) — mild or severe — each year. Of those suffering a TBI, 50,000 die each year and 85,000 suffer long-term injury. Overall there are 5.3 million Americans living with a TBI.
Classification of Brain Injuries
Brain injuries can range in scope from mild to severe. A brain injury is typically classified as mild if loss of consciousness and/or confusion a lasts for less than 30 minutes. Some traumatic brain injuries (TBI) result in permanent neurobiological damage that can produce lifelong deficits to varying degrees. Moderate to severe brain injuries typically refer to injuries that have the following characteristics:
- Moderate brain injury is defined as a brain injury resulting in a loss of consciousness for 20 minutes to 6 hours.
- Severe brain injury is defined as a brain injury resulting in a loss of consciousness for longer than 6 hours.
Causes of TBI
Car accidents are a frequent cause of brain injuries. The CDC reports that 14.3 percent of TBIs are caused by auto accidents, for a yearly total of roughly 286,00 per year. Part of the issue with any brain injury, but especially with those sustained in car crashes, is that symptoms may not appear until later. Because of this, it is extremely important to seek immediate medical treatment for any accident. This also provides important documentation in case of a personal injury suit. The condition of the vehicle after an accident is not always an accurate indicator of the physical sate of a vehicle’s occupants; medical records can be crucial to proving injuries caused.
Slips and Falls
Slip and fall injuries are among the leading causes of TBI in the United States. According to the CDC, 40.5 percent of TBIs are the result of slip and fall injuries. No matter where the injury occurs, it is important to assess what caused the fall. This is especially true if the slip or fall occurred at the mall, a restaurant, a store, or other similar location. If it was caused by a slippery floor, inadequate lighting, or shoddy equipment, documentation is important in order to pursue a claim in court, to establish fault and to make sure similar accidents don’t reoccur.
An issue that has garnered a significant amount of publicity lately are TBIs resulting from sports. Some sports, including boxing and mixed martial arts, include direct head shots, American football, with its frequent head-to-head contact; and soccer, with its headers of balls going at excessive speeds; and even lower impact sports such as basketball or baseball may cause TBI.
Because of the heightened awareness, research has been conducted, especially on the brains of deceased former boxers and football players, to study the cause and effects of the injuries. The findings are chilling. A recent Washington Post report indicates that as many as 40 percent of former professional football players may suffer from TBI. The Neurological Rehabilitation Institute reports that for boxers the percentage is much higher, with potentially 90 percent of former boxers suffering brain injuries at some time in their career, due primarily to the repeated pounding; thus, these athletes suffer a higher risk contracting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
The research and publicity has caused some much-needed changes in rules, especially in football, to protect players from head and neck injuries as much as possible. Still, the danger exists. The legal question has become one of fault: Was the injury the result of equipment, a team, an individual or even the league itself for not implementing more regulations?
Symptoms of Mild TBI
The symptoms of mild TBIs — also frequently called concussions — are not always present immediately following the accident or event producing the injury. It may take days, or even weeks, before the victim and/or his family notices the following signs:
- Visual disturbances
- Memory loss
- Poor attention/concentration
- Sleep disturbances
- Dizziness/loss of balance
- Irritability-emotional disturbances
- Feelings of depression
In addition, some victims of mild TBI experience these less common symptoms:
- Loss of smell
- Sensitivity to light and sounds
- Mood changes
- Getting lost or confused
- Slowness in thinking.
Common Symptoms of Moderate to Severe TBI
The impact of a moderate to severe brain injury has the potential to affect every facet of an individual’s life. The list is long and extensive, and may include:
- Speed of Processing
- Language Processing
- Inability to understand the spoken word (receptive aphasia)
- Difficulty speaking and being understood (expressive aphasia)
- Slurred speech
- Speaking very fast or very slow
- Problems with reading
- Problems with writing
- Difficulties with interpretation of touch, temperature, movement, limb position and fine discrimination
- Partial or total loss of vision
- Weakness of eye muscles and double vision (diplopia)
- Blurred vision
- Problems judging distance
- Involuntary eye movements (nystagmus)
- Intolerance of light (photophobia)
- Decrease or loss of hearing
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Increased sensitivity to sounds
- Loss or diminished sense of smell (anosmia)
- Loss or diminished sense of taste
- Physical paralysis/spasticity
- Chronic pain
- Control of bowel and bladder
- Sleep disorders
- Loss of stamina
- Appetite changes
- Regulation of body temperature
- Menstrual difficulties
- Dependent behaviors
- Emotional ability
- Lack of motivation
- Denial/lack of awareness.
Treatment of Brain Injuries
Treatments for brain injuries are as varied as the injuries themselves. Several variables must be taken into consideration: How severe is the injury? What condition is the person in? What are the symptoms? How adversely has the injury affected the individual? How has it affected quality of life? What secondary injuries result from the brain injury? Is the person disabled, and, if so, by how much?
To learn more about potential treatment options, the Brain Injury Association of America has created a diagram detailing different options.
An experienced personal injury lawyer can seek compensation from those whose negligence caused the injury, including but not limited to the following:
- A drunk or distracted driver
- Medical personnel whose actions or inactions amounted to malpractice
- An employer who was responsible for a dangerous workplace
- A school district which did not provide safeguards for student athletes
- A property owner who did not perform adequate maintenance on sidewalks, stairs or parking lot
- Nursing home owners who failed to protect residents from falls.
If you or your loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury that you suspect was caused by someone else’s negligence, contact the Khalidi Law Firm, PLLC as soon as possible for a free consultation to evaluate the merits of the claim. We receive no fees and you pay no out-of-pocket expenses unless we successfully pursue your claim, but it is important to contact a legal representative quickly to make sure your claim, should you have one, stays within the statutes of limitations under Arizona law.
Khalidi Law Firm, PLLC has more than two decades’ experience with brain injury cases. Located in Tucson’s Historico Barrio, the firm is familiar and experienced with Arizona law and will make sure your concerns are addressed, and that you or your loved one receives treatment and compensation for the injury.
For more information about TBI, visit this page.