The effects can be permanent in severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases.
TBIs can take many forms, from mild concussions to gunshot wounds. Recovery from a TBI depends on the severity of the injury. Some people can recover within a few days, while the worst-case patients may suffer a life-changing disability.
Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
The most significant factor in TBI recovery is damage to brain cells. When there is physical damage to brain cells, they cannot be repaired. When there is no physical damage, there is hope for recovery.
In some cases where damage is permanent, some functional ability may return as the brain can rewire itself somewhat. This retraining can return some functions lost to a TBI.
Although medical science understands quite a bit about how our brains work, there remains a considerable gap. Each brain injury reacts slightly differently, and it remains challenging to predict when full or partial recovery will occur. In a mild TBI, fewer functions are interrupted so you can anticipate a complete recovery.
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Types of TBI
There are four types of brain injuries:
- Concussions happen when the head takes a sharp blow, such as in a car accident or tackle football game.
- Brain contusions are bruising of the brain matter. This can happen with any jarring impact, including whiplash and some contact sports.
- Skull fractures involve cracks in the bony structure that protects the brain. Additional problems can accompany fractures, including bleeding and lacerations from bone fragments.
- Intracranial hematoma is internal bleeding within the skull. The blood can collect and form clots, creating additional problems, including pressure on the brain.
TBIs are classified, based on their severity, into eight types:
- Mild concussion (mTBI)
- Moderate TBI
- Severe TBI
- Uncomplicated TBI
- Complicated TBI
A nontraumatic TBI is not caused by an impact. They can result from a seizure, stroke, choking, and lack of oxygen due to near drowning. This TBI is also known as hypoxic/anoxic brain injury, and it causes damage by depriving the brain of oxygen.
Symptoms of TBI
The symptoms of a TBI don’t always appear immediately. They can occur hours, days, weeks, and even months after an accident. Knowing what to watch for can mean earlier treatment and a better prognosis for recovery. Mild symptoms include:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Blurred vision
- Neck pain
- Confusion or brain fog
- Slower reflexes
- Possible brief loss of consciousness
Mild symptoms may go away in a few days to a couple of weeks. Moderate to severe TBI sufferers may also experience:
- Lingering headache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty with balance and walking
- Difficulty waking up
- Slurred or slower speech patterns
- Numbness or weakness in the extremities (arms and legs)
With a moderate to severe TBI, you may also have drainage from the ears or nose, dilated (enlarged) pupils, and difficulty with short-term memory and focus. Sometimes, mood changes, dizziness, and fatigue might be apparent.
Important Symptoms for Infants and Small Children
For a child with a head injury, regardless of how minor, you should keep a watchful eye on them for several days. In addition to accidents with adults, children can bump their heads falling, playing on a slide, and roughhousing with one another.
It is vitally important to check them for symptoms. They may not know the words to describe their pain, especially in the case of infants and nonverbal children. Check the pupils for dilation or uneven dilation. Watch their movements for any unsteadiness. Some children with TBIs may cry incessantly and won’t calm down using your usual parental “tricks.” They may also refuse food or drinks due to nausea or pain.
If you are in doubt – take your child to an urgent care facility, pediatrician, or the emergency room.
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How do TBIs Happen?
We have briefly mentioned several ways adults and children can get TBIs. The list is never all-inclusive. Any action that creates a violent or jarring impact or a “snapping” of the head can cause a TBI, including:
- Construction accidents
- Car, motorcycle, and truck accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Playground mishaps
- Slip and fall accidents
- Athletic competitions
- Gunshot wounds
- Shaken baby syndrome and other child abuse
Some people are more at risk for TBIs due to their careers, including:
- Military members (blast injuries)
- Police and firefighters
- Construction workers
Anytime you have a head injury, it is wise to monitor for TBI symptoms.
Short and Long-Term Effects of TBI
Mild and moderate TBIs may only affect you for a couple of weeks. You may need extensive care, including occupational, physical, and speech therapy, with severe injuries. Symptoms will not always appear immediately.
The long-term effects of a TBI can alter your entire lifestyle. You may need to relearn several essential functions like eating, walking, or talking. The most important information we can relay is not to get discouraged. If another person’s negligent actions caused your injury, it might be helpful to speak with a personal injury attorney.
Call Our Firm for Legal Support Following a TBI
If you were injured by someone else and have a TBI with an uncertain prognosis for complete recovery, a personal injury or car accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve to cover your medical expenses.
Don’t allow the potential for a permanent disability to interrupt your life. Contact Bader Scott Injury Lawyers now for your complimentary case evaluation with a team member.