From car accidents to falls, traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 1.7 million people suffer a TBI each year. Those who suffer from a TBI may be left with long-term disabilities.
People of all ages can suffer a TBI, but the incidence is higher among young people aged 15 to 24 years. Among this age group, more than 230,000 are hospitalized due to TBIs each year, according to the CDC. While most people will recover fully from a TBI within six months if they don’t have any lasting complications, some injuries are severe enough that victims need long-term support and rehabilitation. A person with a complex or critical injury might require long-term care after leaving the hospital.
What Is A Traumatic Brain Injury?
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A TBI is a blow or jolt to the head that can disrupt the brain’s normal function. Although any injury that jars the brain can be a TBI, the term is usually used to describe an injury that causes damage to the brain and the skull.
There are three different types of injuries: open or depressed skull fractures, closed head injuries, including concussion and internal bleeding in or around the brain; and penetrating head wounds. The last type includes gunshot wounds and knife and spear wounds, even from accidents such as ski poles, whips, and high-pressure water hoses.
Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The symptoms of a TBI can vary depending on the severity of the injury. Still, they often include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and confusion. If you or your loved one has suffered a head injury, it is essential to seek legal representation from dsslaw.com/personal-injury-attorney/traumatic-brain-injuries/ to protect your rights. You may be entitled to financial compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain, and suffering.
What Causes Traumatic Brain Injuries?
About 40 percent of TBIs come from falls, according to the CDC. Car accidents are the second leading cause of TBI, accounting for about 20 percent of all injuries. Other common causes of TBI include violence, such as gunshot wounds, stabbings, and sports injuries. The severity of a TBI can vary depending on the force of the impact and the direction of the blow, Including which impacted the parts of the brain. There are three main types of TBIs:
Concussions are the most common type of TBI. They occur when a sudden, severe impact disrupts the brain’s normal function. Symptoms often include loss of consciousness or a period in which there is a lapse in memory, usually just for a few seconds to minutes.
In contusions, blood vessels in and around the brain may be damaged by force from an impact, causing internal bleeding. Types of contusions include:
- Epidural hematomas, when an artery in the skull ruptures and blood flow between layers of tissue.
- Subdural hematomas, where veins tear and allow blood to collect under the dura that covers and protects the brain.
- Subarachnoid hemorrhage, when an artery on the surface of the brain leaks.
Penetrating injuries are caused by objects that perforate the skull and enter the brain. These injuries can cause extensive damage to the brain tissue. This occurs when an object pierces the skull, penetrating into or through the brain tissue. The object can be anything from a bullet to an arrowhead.
Who Is At Risk For Traumatic Brain Injuries?
Children and young adults are most likely to suffer TBIs because their heads are still developing, and their neck muscles aren’t strong enough to absorb shock. People with certain medical conditions, such as epilepsy or sleep disorders, have a higher risk of suffering a TBI, often from falls or blows to the head that might not otherwise cause injury. Those who have been drinking alcohol or using recreational drugs also have a higher risk than those who take certain medications, such as anticoagulants.
How Are Traumatic Brain Injuries Diagnosed?
If you or someone you know has suffered a blow to the head, it’s essential to seek medical attention right away. The doctor will ask about the injury and perform a physical examination. They may also order various tests, including:
- CT scan: A CT scan creates a detailed image of the brain to help identify bleeding, swelling, and other damage.
- MRI: An MRI uses magnets and radio waves to create images of the brain. This can help detect injuries that don’t appear on a CT scan.
- EEG: An EEG measures electrical activity in the brain. This test can detect abnormal brain function resulting from a TBI.
How Are Traumatic Brain Injuries Treated?
People with TBIs require close monitoring for the first 24 to 48 hours to ensure their condition doesn’t worsen or change unexpectedly. Most people with moderate to severe head injuries need surgery. Doctors often use special drills and devices that remove the bone. In some cases, they may even remove part of the skull — so that swelling in the brain has room to go down. Blood vessels that have been torn also can be repaired or replaced during surgery.
Sometimes doctors drill into the skull to drain accumulated fluid where it can’t cause damage if it expands under pressure, such as around the spinal cord. Once stable, patients are moved to an intensive care unit, monitored 24 hours a day. They may need to be on a ventilator at first to help them breathe. If they can live on their own after several days, doctors gradually reduce the amount of sedation and muscle relaxants.
If there is no sign of brain damage from lack of oxygen, patients wake up quickly. Once awake, people gradually improve over time. But it may take weeks or even months to recover fully from a TBI. In some cases, CT scans and other tests show signs that the brain has healed, called post-traumatic lucency, but the person still struggles with cognition, memory, or mobility problems.
Traumatic brain injuries can be severe and life-altering, requiring surgery and extended hospitalization. If you or someone you know has suffered a TBI, it is essential to seek medical attention right away and contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. These lawyers are always dedicated to helping people who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence.