1. What is traumatic brain injury?
Traumatic brain injury is an injury to the brain caused by an external physical force. This force may produce a diminished or altered state of consciousness, resulting in an impairment of cognitive abilities or physical functioning. It can also result in the disturbance of behavioral or emotional functioning.
2. What are the most common causes of brain injury?
- Motor vehicle crashes – roughly 1/2 of all injuries
- Firearm-related incidents
- Slips and falls
- Violence-related injuries – abuse, Shaken Baby Syndrome
- Recreational Accidents – bicycle falls, playground equipment falls, all-terrain vehicle accidents
3. What are some of the effects of brain injury?
- Short term memory loss
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty with communication
- Spatial disorientation
- Impaired judgment
- Unable to do more than one thing at a time
- Muscle spasticity
- Double vision or blindness
- Loss of smell or taste
- Speech impairments
- Balance problems
- Difficulty completing tasks
- Increased anxiety
- Mood swings
- Impulsive behavior
4. Who is most at risk for sustaining a brain injury?
Anyone can incur a brain injury. However, statistics show that males are two times more likely than females to sustain a brain injury. The highest rates of brain injury typically occur in males ages 15-24. Individuals who have already sustained a brain injury are also at an increased risk of sustaining another brain injury.
5. How is brain injury diagnosed?
When there is evidence of gross damage to the brain, such as hemorrhaging, swelling or contusions. These physical findings are detected by CAT-scan (CT scan) or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Where the damage is minimal, a diagnosis is made by obtaining history from the patient, the symptoms reported by the patient and the results of neuropsychological testing.
6. What happens after a brain injury?
After a brain injury, a variety of other damages may occur including:
- Hematoma (epidural, subdural and/or intracerebral)
- Brain swelling/edema
- Increased intracranial pressure
- Cerebral vasospasm
- Intracranial infection
- Coma (There are degrees of comatose states. These degrees are quantified in what is known as a Glasgow score.)
7. What types of medical exams are conducted to determine a brain injury?
Patients with brain injury require frequent assessments and diagnostic tests. These include:
- Neurological Exam: A series of questions and simple commands to see if the patient can open their eyes, move, speak, and understand what is going on around them.
- X-ray: A picture that looks at bones to see if they are broken (fractured).
- CT scan (CAT scan): An X-ray that takes pictures of the brain or other parts of the body.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) Scan: A large magnet and radio waves are used, instead of X-rays, to take pictures of the tissues of the body.
- Angiogram: A test to look at the blood vessels in the brain. Using a catheter, dye is put into an artery that supplies blood to the brain. This test can tell if the blood vessels are damaged.
8. What are cerebral contusions?
Cerebral contusions are bruises on the brain caused by the brain striking the wall of the skull. A severe contusion will involve swelling of the brain. If swelling is severe, these injuries can cause a severe headache, dizziness, and vomiting. One pupil may be larger than the other. Depending on which area of the brain is damaged, the ability to think, control emotions, move, feel, speak, see, hear, and remember may be impaired. The person may become irritable, restless, or agitated.
9. How many people suffer brain injury each year?
It is estimated that 8 million people sustain brain injuries each year in the United States. At least 2 million of those injured will be permanently impaired. After a brain injury, things that once were easy and familiar become strange and difficult. The injured party often becomes less efficient at their job and their livelihood is jeopardized.
10. If I have suffered a brain injury, should I contact an attorney?
Yes. It is important that a lawyer be contacted to evaluate your case as soon as possible. Often, the circumstances of an accident or injury must be investigated promptly or valuable evidence is forever lost. In addition, there is a statute of limitations governing how long after an injury or accident that you can bring a complaint against the other party. Contact Scott C. Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney today to discuss your situation.