Did you know that traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability in our country?
Indeed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), TBIs contribute to around 30 percent of all injury deaths in the U.S., and an average of 138 people die every day from injuries that involve TBI.
And when a brain injury accident happens, the victim often must contend with disabilities that can last for the remainder of his or her life.
One of the scariest aspects of TBIs is that they often go undetected. Brain injuries can be difficult to diagnose, and many people who sustain bumps to the head do not seek medical treatment.
However, they can develop life-long symptoms that result in severe disabilities. For example, the CDC cites the following as effects of head trauma:
- Impaired thinking;
- Impaired memory;
- Limited movement;
- Impaired sensation, such as vision or hearing;
- Personality changes; and
When TBI symptoms are not properly assessed and treated by a healthcare professional, the effects can be devastating to the victim and to his or her family.
Even when TBIs are properly diagnosed, the CDC emphasizes that the effects of a serious head trauma impact not only the individual suffering from the brain injury, but also her family and community.
Learning More About TBI Symptoms
It is important to understand the nature of a TBI and the signs and symptoms of this type of injury.
According to the CDC, a TBI is “caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain.”
Not all bumps to the head will result in a traumatic brain injury, however. It is also essential to know that TBIs can range from “mild” to “severe.” Concussions are a form of “mild” TBI that still can have long-lasting effects on the victim and her family.
The symptoms of a TBI can vary depending on whether you have suffered a mild or more severe head trauma.
The Mayo Clinic identifies the following general signs and symptoms of TBIs in order to encourage victims to visit a healthcare professional so that this injury does not go undetected:
- Loss of consciousness;
- State of confusion or disorientation;
- Fatigue or drowsiness;
- Sleeping difficulties or changes in sleeping patterns;
- Blurred vision;
- Ringing ears;
- Speech difficulties;
- Difficulty with the ability to taste or smell;
- Sensitivity to light or sound;
- Problems with memory or concentration;
- Shifts in mood;
- Depression; and
In moderate to severe TBIs, these symptoms are much more pronounced, and they can also include convulsions, weakness and numbness in the fingers or toes, and slipping into a coma. Kids can have varying symptoms of a TBI after they sustain a bump or jolt to the head, and it is extremely important to have a doctor assess any child with a suspected brain injury.
And if another party’s negligence caused your loved one’s TBI, it is important to learn more about filing a TBI lawsuit and options for TBI legal settlements. A brain injury lawyer in Albany can help with your case.
Diagnosis Difficulty and TBI Invisibility
When we say that TBIs are invisible, we mean this in two distinct ways. First, they can be very difficult to diagnose.
According to a report from Brainline.org, it can take years for head injury victims to receive a proper diagnosis.
While MRIs can be useful in assessing the presence and severity of certain forms of head trauma, up to 85 percent of all mild TBIs—concussions, generally—go undetected by MRIs. As one TBI victim explained, it took four years and visits to multiple physicians before he was able to receive a proper diagnosis and to have treatment options that could help to ease his symptoms.
Given the difficulty to detect mild TBIs and other forms of brain injuries at the doctor’s office, it is very important for family members and friends of those with suspected TBIs to be alert to physical, sensory, and emotional changes.
Many healthcare providers may not look at the totality of symptoms presented by a head injury victim, and thus they may not properly diagnose the injury. Family members and close friends, however, may be able to observe signs of a serious TBI even before the individual notices. In particular, those who are close to someone with an undetected TBI may notice some of the following clear symptoms of a brain injury:
- Short-term memory loss;
- Slowed processing ability;
- Difficulty finding words;
- Difficulty learning new information; and
- Difficulty with decision making.
Suffering from Invisible Disabilities
In addition to the difficulty of detection, TBIs often are considered invisible disabilities because it is not easy to know when someone is suffering from the effects of a brain injury.
An article from the Invisible Disabilities Association emphasizes that loved ones who suffer from the daily effects of TBIs often do not look sick. As such, those who have TBIs can feel that their condition and its impact are not being taken seriously or that they receive reactions of disbelief.
To be sure, “many chronic conditions and disabilities are not as noticeable as a bad case of the flu.” But despite the inability for us to see a chronic condition—the inability for us to be able to tell when someone is suffering from a TBI simply by looking at that person—brain injuries and their aftermaths are very real.
An article from Brainline.org provides some important points that brain injury survivors would like to be able to tell their loved ones and their communities:
- Suffering a TBI really does require much more rest than prior to the injury. Feeling fatigued after sustaining a TBI is not about being lazy, but rather is about an effect of the disability.
- Stamina can fluctuate after a brain injury, even if the person looks “recovered” on the outside.
- Rehabilitation from a TBI takes a very long time, usually years.
- It is important for family members and close friends to pay attention to changes in behavior after a TBI. Behavioral shifts can be a sign that a brain injury victim is in pain.
- Memory and concentration can be difficult for someone with a TBI, and it is important to be patient if your loved one seems to be “rigid” or “stuck” when thinking through a common task or problem.
Contact a Brain Injury Lawyer in Syracuse, NY
Anyone can become the victim of a serious brain injury. Indeed, a TBI accident can happen without warning on your way to work or while you are out for a morning walk. We should all be aware of the dangers of undetected brain injuries and the invisibility of this severe type of injury.
If you or someone you love continues to suffer the effects of a head trauma, it is important to learn more about TBI legal issues and your options for financial compensation.