Traumatic Brain Injury FAQs
What is traumatic brain injury?
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters the brain. Symptoms of a TBI can range from mild to severe depending on the severity of the damage done to the brain.
What are the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury?
Experts say a person with a mild TBI may remain awake or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include:
- Blurred vision
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Ringing in the ears
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Lethargy or fatigue
- Mood or behavior changes
- Trouble with memory, concentration, or thinking
A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms, but may include:
- Headaches that gets worse or do not go away
- Slurred speech
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Weakness or numbness in the extremities
- Loss of coordination
- Dilation of the pupils
- Increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.
How many people per year suffer from traumatic brain injury?
At least 1.4 million Americans sustain some type of traumatic brain injury. Of these, about 50,000 die, 235,000 are hospitalized, and 1.1 million are treated and released.
- Approximately 475,000 TBIs occur among children ages 0 to 14
- Emergency room visits account for more than 90% of the TBIs in the 0 to 14 age group.
- Falls are the leading cause of TBI with rates being the highest for children ages 0 to 4 and for adults age 75 or older.
What are some complications of a traumatic brain injury?
- Seizures - Some people who have experienced a TBI will experience at least one seizure during the first week after the injury. Research has shown that this does not appear to increase the victim's chances of developing epilepsy.
- Coma - A person who is totally unconscious and unresponsive is in a coma. This situation usually lasts for few days or weeks. After this time, some people gradually awaken, while others may be in a paralyzed, vegetative state. People in a vegetative state often open their eyes and may move or make vocal sounds, but are still unconscious and unaware of their surroundings. People in this vegetative state for more than a year seldom recover.
- Nerve damage - Injuries to the base of the skull can damage to facial nerves, causing paralysis of facial muscles.
- Infections - Penetrating wounds or skull fractures can tear the membranes that surround the brain causing an infection of these membranes which can be dangerous because of its potential to spread to the rest of the nervous system.
- Difficulty swallowing - A person with a traumatic brain injury may need to be fed through a feeding tube during part of his or her recovery.
- Cognitive disabilities - Most people who have had a traumatic brain injury will experience complete loss or deterioration of cognitive abilities such as thinking, reasoning, memory, etc. The most typical impairment is short-term memory loss.
- Sensory problems - A person who has had a TBI may experience:
- A persistent ringing in the ears
- Difficulty recognizing objects
- Impaired hand-eye coordination
- A perceived bitter taste or a bad smell
- The inability to taste food
- Blind spots
- Double vision
- Language difficulties - Communication problems are quite common when it comes to TBIs. Some people who have brain injuries may have trouble with spoken and written language, while others may have problems deciphering nonverbal signals.
- Personality changes - TBIs affect the part of the brain that handles impulse control, which results in changes in behavior during recovery and rehabilitation. The victim's unstable emotions and impaired social skills often pose the greatest challenge for many families. Due to these severe changes, many victims loose friends and marriages.
- Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease - A traumatic brain injury appears to increase the risk of eventually developing Alzheimer's disease and, to a lesser degree, Parkinson's disease. The higher the severity and frequency of the brain injuries, the greater risk.
How are TBIs treated?
Anyone with signs of moderate or severe TBI should receive immediate medical attention. Typically, little can be done to reverse the initial brain damage caused by trauma, but medical personnel focus on preventing further injury. Primary concerns include:
- Insuring proper oxygen supply to the brain and the rest of the body
- Maintaining adequate blood flow
- Stabilizing blood pressure
Various imaging tests help in determining the diagnosis and prognosis of a TBI patient. Patients with mild to moderate injuries may receive skull and neck X-rays to check for bone fractures or spinal instability. For moderate to severe cases, the imaging test is a CT scan. Moderately to severely injured patients receive rehabilitation that involves individually tailored treatment programs in the areas of:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Social support
- Speech and language therapy
What is the prognosis for TBI patients?
According to experts, approximately half of severely head-injured patients require surgery to remove or repair ruptured blood vessels or contusions. Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the individual. Some common disabilities include:
- Problems with cognition such as thinking, memory, and reasoning
- Problems with sensory processing such as sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell
- Problems communicating
- Increase in behavioral or mental health problems including depression, personality changes, anxiety, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness
More serious head injuries may result in:
- Stupor (unresponsive state) - where the individual can be aroused briefly by stimulus such as pain
- Coma - where an individual is totally unconscious, unresponsive, and unaware
- Vegetative state - where an individual is unconscious and unaware of his or her surroundings, but continues to have a sleep-wake cycle and periods of alertness
- Persistent vegetative state (PVS) - where an individual stays in a vegetative state for more than a month
What research is being done?
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts TBI research in laboratories and supports TBI research through grants to major medical institutions across the U.S. This research involves studies in the laboratory and in clinical settings to better understand TBI. This research will allow scientists to develop strategies and interventions to limit the primary and secondary brain damage that occurs within days of a head trauma.
How are TBI victims compensated?
The kind of damages that can be awarded to TBI victims differ from case to case as no two injuries are the same. In addition to the medical, hospital and rehabilitation expenses, courts also evaluate:
- The nature and extent of the injury
- Whether the injury is temporary or permanent
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of wages and impairment of earning capacity
- Any disfigurement or deformity
- Mental anguish
- The loss of enjoyment of life
Contacting an Oklahoma personal attorney at the time of the accident, or as soon as knowledge of a TBI exists, is crucial in ensuring the protection of legal rights associated with TBI injuries.
We can handle your potential legal case if you are in any of these Oklahoma cities. Even if your city is not listed you may still speak with one of our Oklahoma brain injury attorneys by filling out our contact form or calling us toll-free at 1 (866) 664-0400.
Ada, Afton, Altus, Alva, Anadarko, Ardmore, Atoka, Bartlesville, Blackwell, Broken Arrow, Catoosa, Chandler, Checotah, Chickasha, Claremore, Clinton, Del City, Duncan, Durant, Edmond, El Reno, Elk City, Enid, Erick, Frederick, Glenpool, Grove, Guthrie, Guymon, Henryetta, Idabel, Lawton, Locust Grove, Mcalester, Miami, Midwest City, Moore, Muskogee, Norman, Oklahoma City, Okmulgee, Owasso, Pauls Valley, Perry, Ponca City, Poteau, Pryor, Roland, Sallisaw, Sand Springs, Savanna, Shawnee, Stillwater, Stilwell, Stroud, Tahlequah, Tulsa, Vinita, Wagoner, Weatherford, Woodward, Yukon
Copyright © 2006 Garrett Law Office, P.C.
111 W 5th Street | Tulsa, OK 74145
Phone: 918-622-9292 | Fax: 918-549-6794