A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a severe form of head injury that may cause you more than just a headache. In this article, our Houston medical malpractice attorneys provide a traumatic brain injury overview including common causes, symptoms, and what you need to know if you have been diagnosed with a TBI.
Traumatic Brain Injury Overview
While some TBI-related accidents are just that, there are many instances where TBI injuries are the result of negligence on the part of someone else. Head injuries in general are one of the most common injuries that anyone can suffer, whether caused by a fall, playing sports, a car accident, construction site accident, medical complications, or any incident where there is trauma to your head or brain.
Any time you suffer head trauma, you are at risk for a TBI. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 2.8 million TBI-related emergency room visits in 2013, accounting for approximately 30 percent of all U.S. deaths related to injury.
Traumatic Brain Injury Causes
TBIs are a form of brain injury that can happen to anyone, any age, at any time. TBIs occur when the brain is bounced, twisted, or jarred due to sudden movement of the head. When this occurs, brain tissue and cells may become stretched or injured, thus changing the chemicals of the brain and affecting its normal behavior. Common causes of a TBI may include:
- Bump or blow to the head
- Jolt or sudden jarring of the head
- Explosive blast or injury to the head
- Penetrating brain injury
Traumatic Brain Injury Types
Not all head injuries result in TBIs. Depending on the nature of the injury, you may have an injury that is not considered a TBI, or you may have a TBI of varying severity. Some of the common types of TBI include:
- Skull fracture
- Penetrating skull fracture
- Contusion (bruising of brain tissue)
- Contrecoup (bruising that occurs on the opposite side of the brain where the injury occurred)
- Hematoma (heavy bleeding or damaged blood vessels)
- Anoxia or hypoxia (absence of, or restricted oxygen supply to the brain)
Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
Depending on the severity of a brain injury or TBI, the symptoms exhibited may vary. TBIs are often diagnosed as mild, moderate, and severe. The symptoms associated with each may include:
- Mild – Headache, blurred vision, confusion, or mild behavioral changes
- Moderate – Mild symptoms with the addition of nausea or vomiting, weakness in the arms and legs, or slurred speech
- Severe – Mild and/or moderate symptoms, repeated or severe vomiting, impaired thinking abilities, or unconsciousness
Diagnosing a Traumatic Brain Injury
Diagnosing a TBI involves several steps, beginning with a complete physical examination. Your healthcare provider will assess your active symptoms and then evaluate certain areas more specifically through tests, such as:
- Sensory function
- Motor/movement functions
- Thinking ability/clarity
In addition, your healthcare provider will conduct neurological tests to examine your head and brain, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans. These tests will help assess your injury and determine if your brain function or physiology is compromised.
Problems with Diagnostic Methods
Unfortunately, even with today’s technology, it is often difficult to make a clear-cut diagnosis of a TBI. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is continuing research to examine diagnostic methods and are searching for ways to improve timely and effective TBI diagnosis. FDA scientists are currently looking into elements like biomarkers, brain imaging, biofluids, eye tracking, and ultrasound methods.
The FDA is also reviewing current technology and medical devices used to diagnose and assess TBIs. These reviews are aimed at evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medical devices in relation to TBIs. As the FDA gathers information, it can communicate with manufacturers to help ensure that medical devices are built based on sound evidence and focus.
Life after a Traumatic Brain Injury
The best way to prevent or reduce the damage caused by a TBI is to have it diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) has reported that there is little that can be done to reverse the damage caused by head trauma. There are, however, methods of treatment and stabilization that can prevent future damage and address any ongoing symptoms or effects.
Disabilities or side effects associated with TBIs commonly include:
- Impaired cognition (memory, reasoning, or thinking)
- Impaired sensory processing (smell, taste, sight, hearing, or touch)
- Communication issues
- Behavioral or mental health issues (depression, anxiety, aggression, social issues, or personality changes)
Many of these conditions and side effects are temporary after treatment of a TBI, though more severe injuries may result in longer term effects. Serious TBIs may result in any of the above, or may include debilitating, permanent injuries and effects including:
- Persistent vegetative state (PVS)
Traumatic Brain Injury Caused by Negligence
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury – whether caused by an honest or unavoidable accident – there may be little that you can do beyond rallying the support of friends and family and moving forward as best you can. If, however, the TBI was caused by negligence, you may have the option of pursuing legal action against the party that caused the harm. TBIs caused by negligence may stem from any of the following:
- Medical malpractice or hospital negligence
- Nursing home negligence
- Injuries during labor or delivery
- Auto accidents caused by reckless driving, intoxication, distraction, or speeding
Injuries caused by the negligence of someone else are not acceptable. When the negligence of someone else causes you harm, you have the right to explore your legal rights and pursue compensation for your injuries and financial losses. b
Learn More About Your Legal Rights
The best way to learn more about your legal rights, and determine if you have a cause for legal action, is to seek the guidance of an attorney who is experienced in managing TBI-related cases. At MedMalFirm.com, our medical malpractice attorneys have helped numerous clients battling brain injuries. Whether your injury was the result of a traumatic birth, a botched surgical procedure, or physical trauma, we can help.
We know how difficult these injuries are from a medical standpoint, as well as how they impact your family. To schedule a free consultation, fill out our online form or call us at 877-887-4850.