Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs account for around 30 percent of injury-related deaths. That equates to 153 patients dying every day as a result of injuries including TBIs.
TBIs are a leading cause of death, but they cause millions more injuries that leave patients with long-term or even permanent disabilities. The impact on TBI victims and their loved ones is tremendous. The CDC estimates that around 2.8 million people visit an ER, are hospitalized, or are killed as a result in TBIs. In 2013, almost 50,000 deaths were attributed directly to TBIs.
What are Traumatic Brain Injuries?
A TBI is an injury that disrupts brain function. It is caused by a jolt, bump, or blow to the head. This includes:
- Direct contact with an object (a “blow” to the head)
- Jarring that causes the brain to “slosh” against the skull
- Bruising or bleeding in the brain
- Skull fractures that may penetrate brain tissue
- Lack of oxygen that causes brain damage
TBIs range in severity, with mild injuries having few symptoms and a low risk of complications. Moderate or severe injuries are more likely to result in permanent damage. The symptoms, side effects, and complication risk will largely depend on what part of the brain was injured, and to what extent.
What are the Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries?
There are numerous causes for TBIs – some of which may be surprising. There is a common misconception that TBIs are only the result of catastrophic injuries. Of course, catastrophic injuries can certainly cause a TBI, but there are less extensive injuries that can also lead to a TBI diagnosis. Some examples of the more common causes of TBIs include:
- Auto Accidents – 14% of TBIs
- Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents – 47% of TBIs
- Striking an Object – 15% of TBIs
- Self-Harm – 33% of TBIs
- Sports Activities – In 2012, more than 329,000 people under 19 were treated for recreation- or sports-related TBIs.
- Physical Assault
- Oxygen Deprivation – A common cause of TBIs in newborns
TBIs are most common among older individuals and children. TBIs resulting in hospitalization or death are most common among individuals 75 or older.
What are the Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury?
The symptoms associated with TBIs will vary depending on the extent of the injury. Many people have no immediate symptoms after a head injury. In fact, many people do not experience symptoms for days or weeks after the accident. This makes diagnosis and treatment difficult.
As a general rule, the symptoms of a TBI include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Speech difficulties
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Difficulty smelling
- Sensitivity to sound or light
- A “bad taste” in the mouth
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings
These symptoms may be present in mild or moderate TBIs, and may become more advanced with serious injuries. More severe TBIs often result in more significant and noticeable changes in cognitive function, and may result in more pronounced loss of consciousness or even coma.
Complications Related to Traumatic Brain Injuries
As if these symptoms were not scary enough, there are multiple complications that can result from a TBI. The most common complications include:
- Memory, concentration, or attention problems
- Learning difficulties
- Behavioral problems
- Hearing loss
- Vision loss
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Brain death
- Degenerative brain diseases
- Vegetative state
Are Traumatic Brain Injuries Treatable?
Many TBIs are treatable, especially if treatment is initiated quickly after the injury occurs. More severe TBIs may be treatable, but there may be no “cure” for the symptoms or damage done. Depending on the location and extent of the brain injury, treatment may consist of any combination of the following:
- Medications – sedation, anti-seizure, pain relief
- Surgery – repairing fractures, relieving pressure, removing hematoma
- Therapy – physical, occupations, and counseling
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are particularly heartbreaking injuries for patients and their families. Brain injuries can alter an individual’s personality or leave him or her struggling mentally or physically. If you or a loved one suffer from TBI, make sure to contact an experienced traumatic brain injury lawyer. A personal injury lawsuit for a TBI can help victims recover the compensation that they need to carry on with their lives.