WHAT IS A TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY?
If you experience any forceful contact to your head, and it disrupts your brain’s natural functions, then you’ve experienced a traumatic brain injury, or TBI. Your brain can be injured by other conditions, like infections or strokes, but those kinds of injuries are called “acquired brain injuries,” or ABIs. They can be just as life altering as a TBI.
Doctors classify TBIs as either mild, moderate, or severe. Since most TBIs are mild, many people who sustain a TBI find that their symptoms get better over time. In fewer but more serious cases of TBI, the effects of the damage can last a lifetime. A mild brain injury may sound harmless, but they are still very serious. Serious symptoms from a “mild” brain injury can linger for months without treatment.
WHAT CAUSES TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURIES?
The leading causes of TBI are:
- Falls (35.2%): Falling out of bed, slipping in the bath, falling down steps, falling from ladders and related falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury overall, particularly in older adults and young children.
- Motor vehicle/traffic crashes (17.3%): Collisions involving cars, motorcycles or bicycles — and pedestrians involved in such accidents — are a common cause of traumatic brain injury
- Sports Injuries (16.5%): Traumatic brain injuries may be caused by injuries from a number of sports, including soccer, boxing, football, baseball, lacrosse, skateboarding, hockey, and other high-impact or extreme sports, particularly in youth.
- Assaults and violence (11%): About 20 percent of traumatic brain injuries are caused by violence, such as gunshot wounds, domestic violence or child abuse. Shaken baby syndrome is traumatic brain injury caused by the violent shaking of an infant that damages brain cells.
WHAT ARE THE COSTS OF TBI?
The more severe the injury is, the more expensive it is to treat. If you were to experience a severe brain injury today, it would cost anywhere from $600,000 to $1.8 million dollars to care for you over your lifetime. If you’re a veteran, that cost could be much higher, since wartime TBIs are often accompanied by other injuries as well. Several complications can occur immediately or soon after a traumatic brain injury. Severe injuries increase the risk of a greater number of complications and more-severe complications, including:
- Vegetative state
- Brain death
- Fluid buildup and brain swelling
- Brain infections
- Nerve damage
- Intellectual, cognitive, and communication problems
WHAT CAN I DO TO RECOVER COSTS FROM A BRAIN INJURY?
A personal injury attorney who has significant experience in brain injury lawsuits should be able either to help you with these matters or recommend someone he knows who can. For various reasons, it is best to consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as practical following a serious brain injury. Personal injury attorneys can recover costs for medical bills, lost wages, loss of quality of life, and other damages while you recuperate from your injury.
WHERE CAN I GO TO REHABILITATE?
Always see your doctor if you or someone you know has received a blow to the head or body that concerns you or causes behavioral changes. Seek emergency medical care if there are any signs or symptoms of traumatic brain injury following a recent blow or other traumatic injury to the head. Depending on your deficiencies you should seek different forms of medical care.
- Neurologists: Neurologists are doctors who are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of nervous system disorders. These can include diseases of the brain, spinal cord, muscles, and nerves.
- Physiatrists: Physiatrists are medical experts in rehabilitation medicine. They typically oversee the rehabilitation process.
- Occupational, Physical, Speech and Language Therapists: These therapists work with a person with TBI to regain cognitive and communication skills, physical abilities, and behavioral skills.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Experts: These experts are employment coaches who help with regaining job skills.
- Behavioral analysts: These specialists create strategies for dealing with behavioral problems.
- Neuropsychologists: These specialized psychologists focus on thinking skills and behavior problems.
- Case managers/ care coordinators: Case managers/case coordinators assist people in finding and accessing needed programs and services.
Note: Some professionals also carry additional certification from the American Academy for the Certification of Brain Injury Specialists. See: http://www.aacbis.net/ for details.