Traumatic Brain Injury FAQs
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries occur in the United States every year. Traumatic brain injuries or TBIs are a contributing factor in almost a third of all injury-related deaths. Not all TBIs result in fatal injuries.
Approximately 75 percent of all TBIs are concussions or other forms of milder TBI. All brain injury victims do not end up with the same outcome though. Symptoms can vary depending on the impact from the accident. While there are differences in symptoms, there are two primary TBI's that are diagnosed frequently.
Two types of traumatic brain injuries:
Closed head injury: A closed head injury generally is the result of an event like a car accident. In this scenario, the head whips back and forth or side to side, hitting against the inside of the skull at a very high rate of speed as it does. This knocking around of the brain causes tissue to be bruised and blood vessels to be torn within specific areas of the brain. The brain regions that are most often affected by a closed head injury are the frontal and temporal lobes. The frontal lobe regulates decision-making, problem solving, movement, and emotions, while the temporal lobe controls memory, hearing, speech, and the ability to learn.
Open head injury: Individuals experience less impairment than a patient with closed head injury at times. However, even though there are fewer detrimental after effects from open head injury, they can be just as serious as those that result from closed head injuries. It all depends on how much destruction was caused by the object as it penetrated the brain.
4 Common Causes of Brain injuries
The brain is a complex organ, which is in charge of everything we think, do, say and feel. It controls all vital body functions. When head trauma results in damage to the brain, the resulting symptoms can be devastating and potentially lifelong.
1. Slip and Falls: Falls are the leading cause of TBI in the United States. In fact, falling accidents are responsible for 35.2 percent of all brain injuries. Falls cause about half of all TBIs among children under the age of 15 and 61 percent of all TBIs suffered by the elderly.
2. Car Accidents: Motor vehicle accidents are the cause of 17.3 percent of all TBIs making it the second most common cause of non-fatal brain injuries. Traffic-related fatalities make up the largest percentage of fatal TB-related deaths with 31.8 percent.
3. Hit by an object: Victims who are struck by objects or equipment make up 16.5 percent of TBI incidents.
4. Assault: Another 10 percent of brain injuries result from assault.
A traumatic brain injury is often considered a catastrophic injury because victims never return to their pre-accident stage. A number of brain injury victims may make a significant recovery, but it may never be a "complete" recovery.
Acute Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment
This treatment, administered by both emergency rescue personnel and hospital staff, is designed to stabilize the patient, and to stop the progression of damage to the brain. It's objective is to minimize the effects of the injury immediately.
The following states the process of acute TBI brain treatment:
CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation): CPR or Cardiopulmonary resuscitation may be needed while the patient is being taken to the hospital. Emergency rescuers may also have to unblock airways, aid breathing, and keep blood circulating.
Attend to the damaged tissue inside of the brain: Injured brain tissue typically swells, causing it to expand and take up available space in the skull. There may also be blood pools or clots from the blood that flowed out of the blood vessels that were torn during the accident. These will also use up available space in the skull. The swelled tissue and excess blood cause a pressure build up inside the brain that squeezes the tissue and blood cells that supply food and oxygen to the brain.If the brain cells' supply of these items is cut off, serious damage can occur. To prevent this from happening, doctors may intravenously administer the diuretic mannitol to decrease the amount of fluid in the tissue and increase urine output.
Surgery: A surgical procedure may be performed if a blood clot causes increased pressure within the skull. Some clots have to be removed;others cannot be because of the damage that will be done if they are. Subcultural hematomas, (bleeding into the space between the brain cover and the brain itself), and intracerebral hemorrhages, (bleeding resulting from ruptured blood vessels), may also increase pressure, which may mean that the patient will need surgery.
Comprehensive evaluation, treatment and care are critical for recovery in brain injury cases. While physical impairments caused by brain injuries can hinder functional independence, the behavioral, cognitive, emotional and personality changes that are associated with a brain injury may lead to even more complex problems.
For patients with severe TBIs, the goal of rehabilitation is to improve the survivor's ability to function, both at home and in the community, even when full normalcy isn't possible. Therapists will help the patient adapt to his disabilities or help make modifications to the home so that day-to-day activities become as straightforward and trouble-free as possible.
Once the patient is stabilized and there is no danger of additional brain damage, subacute treatment is provided to determine if there are any further complications, help the patient's recovery, and prevent any
The facility staff will be on the alert for:
- muscle contractions
- infections that need treatment, in addition to
- fluid accumulation in the brain that may require surgery.
Regaining brain function requires the assistance of the physical, occupational, and speech therapists, nurses, neuropsychologists, and neurologists on staff at the facility. They not only monitor recovery progress, but they also help patients learn new ways to perform routine tasks if they no longer have the physical ability to perform them as they did in the past.
Initially, many patients experience poor balance, lack of coordination, or cognitive impairments that make them vulnerable to additional injuries. Although they may be agitated and restless, they cannot really be left to move around on their own. It is the job of the rehabilitation staff to keep them calm and safe, until such time as they are able to get around safely. At this point, the patient is usually ready to be discharged.
Some patients who are released from the rehabilitation facility will still have symptoms that remain with them for the rest of their lives, and will require ongoing treatment. One typical long-term symptom is lack of muscle tone, which would mean that the patient would continue receiving physical therapy, or undergo minor corrective surgery.
Individual patients follow different paths in their treatment, depending on the type and severity of the TBI and the specific needs of the patient.
Each person's rehabilitation process is unique to his or her circumstances and the type of injury he or she has suffered. Rehabilitation for brain injury victims can last anywhere from a few months to years.
Seizures and headaches may also continue, requiring that the patient remain on medication to control them. If the individual suffers from depression, anxiety, and behavioral problems, they will most likely be treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
8 Tips to Help You or Your Family Member Cope With a TBI
Whether it is you or a loved one it can be very challenging and difficult to cope with, especially when you do not know what the long term effects or outcome will be. Both the person with the injury and the family often face difficulties they are completely unprepared for. There are however, practical ways of coping with traumatic brain injury--strategies that families can use to support and empower someone they love with this condition.
- Patience is a virtue: Every family with a member who copes with traumatic brain injury will need to be patient, with themselves and the person who suffers the consequences. Recovery from TBI is usually slow, painful and difficult.
- Knowledge is power: The more you know about TBI symptoms and the more you understand how it affects a person's behavior, emotions, memory, ability to learn and even their personality is going to help you. Remember, TBI can change a person's personality and when you understand how and why these changes occur, you will be able to better cope.
- You're not alone: There are lots of different support groups for people with TBI and their families. Support groups can provide a space to talk about our feelings, our worries, concerns, anxiety, fears and frustration. These emotions are common. It's hard to see someone we love suffer and struggle. TBI can put a strain on family relationships. Support groups let us vent and they help us to understand the process. Try not to do everything yourself. There are many TBI experts--doctors, counselors, psychologists, neuro-psychologists and other professionals who can help you come to terms with the situation and plan for the future.
- Good planning and time management go a long way: People with TBI often have difficulties with time management, organizing themselves and basic planning. If the family is disorganized around them, life will become difficult. Using practical tools like a family calendar, personal planning tools and dividing up duties and responsibilities, making sure everyone knows what is expected of them will help the family and the person with TBI.
- Communication is key: When a family stops communicating about important issues, problems can set in. Talk about the issues bothering people. Discuss your feelings, your concerns, your worries and your hopes for the future. Let the family member with TBI know that the family is open to talking about the problems they face.
- Never stop having hope: People with TBI can have a future. People with TBI can still return to work. Some do but some don't. TBI is a manageable condition and you can cope with it. Let the family member know you care and you still believe that even with TBI there is a future.
- Consider family counseling: Many families find TBI family counseling extremely helpful. It lets people vent their feelings, express concerns, discuss worries, explain fears and frustrations. A person with TBI will likely need counseling in order to help them understand and cope.
- Life goes on. Don't let TBI become the family focus: If it does, the family will have trouble coping because other issues and problems will be ignored. The family goes on and continues to love and support each other. The family member with TBI must learn to let others have their troubles and successes, just as they do.
These are just a few traumatic brain injury tips that can help families coping with TBI. There are numerous books, articles and stories available to inspire. Some of these books are written by TBI survivors and/or their families. People coping with TBI can get the support they need through information, community services and the support networks they develop for themselves.
Many times we use a strategy but somehow we forget it down the road. So, when you come across a technique, idea or strategy that helps--write it down so that you know success is possible. Each small success leads to bigger success and that leads to a path of hope.
The Cost of Brain Injuries
Victims of traumatic brain injuries can suffer from impairments of their cognitive, emotional and physical functions. It is not only the victims who suffer long-term consequences, but also their families that are often faced with mounting medical bills and rehabilitation costs.
Insurance companies tend to drop coverage for brain injury victims after a certain period of time and families may be left in the dark as they try to come up with funds for their loved one's continued treatment and care. A number of patients do not get the rehabilitative care they need as a result of their family's financial constraints.
The severity of a brain injury can be devastating not just physically, but emotionally as well. Our Brain Injury Attorneys have years of experience handling head trauma cases. We work many of these cases on a contingent fee basis which means that you only pay us if we successfully win your case. Our payment is a preset amount of your award only and we always factor that into any agreed upon settlement.
The cost of brain injury treatment can be exorbitant.
- Direct and indirect costs of traumatic brain injury in the U.S. have been estimated as $48.3 billion.
- The lifetime costs for one person surviving a severe TBI can exceed $4 million.
- An estimate of medical and non-medical needs including home modifications, health insurance and vocational rehabilitation per TBI averages $151,587.
- Acute rehabilitation costs of survivors of severe TBIs could reach $1,000 a day.
- Medical costs are highest for those who do not survive - an average of $454,717 per brain injury fatality.
If you need legal assistance for a brain injury accident, please contact Bisnar Chase for a free case review.
The personal injury attorneys at Bisnar Chase specialize in traumatic brain injury cases. We have been successfully winning settlements for more than 40 years.
If you believe you have a case and would like your case evaluated by a professional brain injury lawyer, please contact us at (949) 203-3814.