An Overview of Brain Injury Cases

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) a branch of the National Institute of Health (NIH) defines a traumatic brain injury (TBI) as sudden trauma that causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when an object hits the head suddenly and violently or when an object pierces the skull and penetrates the brain tissue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a TBI occurs when a person receives a thump, blow, or jolt to the head, or a penetrating head injury that interrupts the normal function of the brain. A strike to the head can result in a concussion or contusion to the brain from the impact even if it does not penetrate the skull.

Brain Injury Statistics

According to the NINDS and the NIH, brain injuries are a major public health problem, particularly among young males between the ages of 15 and 24, among elderly people 75 years-of-age or older, and children five years old or younger. Disturbing statistics by the NINDS and the NIH portray an alarming epidemic of head injuries in the U.S. Brain injuries have caused incapacitating disabilities in over five million Americans and they will require assistance in performing daily activities for the rest of their lives. The cost of brain injuries to the U.S. is over $56 billion a year.

Each year in the United States approximately:

  • One and half million people experience a brain injury
  • Fifty thousand people die as a result of head injuries
  • One million people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for head injuries
  • Two hundred thirty thousand people are hospitalized because of brain injuries

Symptoms of a Brain Injury

Any head injury can cause a brain injury also referred to as a traumatic brain injury, TBI, or an acquired brain injury. A person that receives a brain injury can experience mild, moderate, or severe symptoms depending on the degree of damage done to the brain.

A person that has experienced a mild brain injury may remain conscious or may experience loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Additional symptoms of a mild brain injury may include:

  • Headache
  • Ear Ringing
  • Trouble Sleeping
  • Fatigue or Lethargy
  • Bad Taste in the Mouth
  • Confusion or Disorientation
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Behavioral or Mood Changes
  • Short-Term Memory Loss or Mental Lapses
  • Blurred Vision, Double Vision, or Tired Eyes
  • Trouble with Concentration, Attention, or Thinking

A person that has suffered a moderate or severe brain injury may also experience any of the same symptoms but more severe and with extended periods of unconsciousness. However, they may also suffer:

  • Amnesia
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Slurred Speech
  • Severe Confusion
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Dilation of the Pupils
  • Convulsions or Seizures
  • Trouble Waking from Sleep
  • Frequent Vomiting or Nausea
  • Intensifying and/or Persistent Headache
  • Weakness or Numbness in the Extremities

A brain injury can lead to long-lasting problems and difficulties with mental functions, cognitive abilities, and/or motor skills.

Causes of Brain Injuries

Some of the common causes of brain injuries are actually other health problems that may result in brain injury as a byproduct of the condition or because of a fall or collision with another object due to the symptoms of the original health condition. Some of these include epilepsy, seizures, cardiac arrest, stroke, sleep disorders, and neurological or mental disorders. Other causes of brain injuries that can result in contusion or concussion include sports injuries, falls, physical assault, or traffic accidents.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), there are an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million sport related brain injuries in the U.S. annually. Brain injuries are more common among people in the age groups of 0 to 4 years of age and 15 to 19 years of age. The primary cause of brain injury in high school sports is football for boys and soccer for girls. Men are 1.5 times more likely than women to experience a brain injury. The five leading causes of brain injury among youths 5 to 18 years of age are bicycling, football, basketball, playground accidents, and soccer.

African-Americans are the ethnic group with the highest death rate from brain injuries. Eighty-seven percent of prisoners in U.S. detention facilities report a previous head injury. The four main causes of brain injuries according to the HHS are falls, traffic accidents, blows to the head, and physical assault.

Treatment for Brain Injury

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) suggests that anyone that has experienced or shows signs of moderate or severe brain injury should receive medical attention as soon as possible. Even though there is very little that can be done to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma. The best thing that medical personnel can do for a victim of brain injury is to try to stabilize the individual and focus on preventing further injury. The main concerns in this situation are to insure proper oxygen supply to the brain and the rest of the body, to maintain sufficient blood flow, and managing the patient's blood pressure.

Neurological Imaging Tests are crucial and decisive in the diagnosis and prognosis of any brain injury patient. X-rays of the skull and neck are essential to check for damage to the cervical vertebrae, bone fractures, or spinal instability. A computed tomography scan also referred to as a CT or CAT scan can produce multiple images of the inside of the brain. The images produced by a CT scan are similar to the slices of a loaf of bread. The images produce a highly detailed multidimensional view of the inside of the brain instantly.

Therapeutic treatment for brain injury can be lengthy and difficult. The rehabilitative process for a victim of brain injury is very demanding and extensive. The therapies involved are individually customized for the precise treatment of each victim. Rehabilitation can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language therapy, psychology/psychiatry, physiatry (physical medicine), and social support.

If you have questions or concerns regarding brain injury, contact an attorney who can help.

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