A TBI is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild” (i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness) to “severe” (i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or memory loss after the injury). Most TBIs that occur each year are mild, commonly called concussions.
In 2013, a total of approximately 2.8 million TBI-related Emergency Room visits, hospitalizations, and deaths occurred in the United States.
Rates of TBIs varied by age, with the highest rates observed among persons older than 75 years old.
In 2014, falls and motor vehicle crashes were the first and second leading causes of all TBI-related hospitalizations (52% and 20%, respectively).
Physical symptoms of a TBI include: headaches, difficulty coordinating balance, blurred vision, other vision problems, seizures, changes in sensory perception, trouble speaking and swallowing, changes in sleep patterns, lack of bowel and bladder control, changes in sexual function, and motor impairment. Tissue swelling from a TBI an increase pressure inside the skull and cause additional damage to the brain.
Functional changes resulting from TBI injury include personality changes, difficulty forming sentences or choosing vocabulary, confusion, trouble communicating, difficulty with focus, reason, and logic, memory impairment, depression, mood swings, disorientation, acting inappropriately.
Treating a TBI starts with imaging of the patient’s brain. An MRI or CT scan is necessary to determine whether there is bleeding of the brain, blood clots, bruised brain tissue, or brain tissue swelling. Medications may be used to limit secondary damage to the brain like swelling and damage caused by seizures. Surgery may be utilized to remove clots, repair skull fractures, stop brain bleeding, and relieving pressure on the brain.
After the patient’s condition has stabilized, rehabilitative treatment occurs. This includes occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech and language pathology, neuropsychology, recreational therapy, and vocational counseling.
Insurance companies will do anything they can to discredit a plaintiff’s claim of TBI. This is because TBI is among the most valuable injuries out there. Most TBIs are minor concussions that resolve relatively quickly. And adept personal injury attorney will be able to identify circumstances that add up to TBI, even if no doctor diagnosed it. This could mean the difference of a zero or two on the settlement.