Personal injury attorneys often represent clients who suffer from traumatic brain injury, or TBI. In the U.S., approximately 1.6 million people sustain a TBI each year, with 50,000 of those dying and 125,000 disabled within one year.
Traumatic brain injury results from sudden trauma that disrupts brain function. The trauma can occur when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and damages brain tissue. TBI is the number one cause of mortality and disability in young adults, and the severity of the injury is determined by the nature, speed, and location of the impact.
Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury
Persons with mild, moderate, or severe traumatic brain injury often exhibit the same symptoms, although there are some indications that are unique to one or the other. Someone with mild TBI may experience a loss of consciousness and remain unconscious for a few seconds or minutes. The symptoms of moderate TBI are similar but usually more serious and long lasting. Some common symptoms of both include headache, confusion, dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, and behavioral or mood changes.
A person with severe TBI may remain unconscious for 24 hours or more, and frequently exhibits the same symptoms as a victim of mild TBI, with some differences: the headache may worsen, repeated nausea or vomiting may be experienced, along with seizures, inability to awaken, dilation of pupils, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in his extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion, agitation, or restlessness.
Treatment and Prognosis
Anyone with signs of TBI should seek medical care immediately. Because little can be done to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma, the focus of medical personnel is usually on stabilizing the victim to prevent further injury. Many symptoms of TBI may not be present or noticeable at the time of injury, and often take days or weeks to appear. Even mild TBI can have devastating and sometimes permanent effects on the victim and his family.
Over the past several decades, research has indicated that older adults who have experienced moderate TBI have a 2-3 times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than someone who has never experienced a head injury. Those with a history of severe TBI have a 4-5 times greater risk.