Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, can lead to permanent disability or even death. In the United States, about 1.7 million people each year suffer a TBI, and TBI contributes to nearly one-third of the injury-related deaths in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), timely recognition of the condition and appropriate treatment is critical.
Possible Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury
A TBI can be the result of a jolt to the head, a fall, a bump to the body that shakes the head and brain, or a penetrating head injury that interferes with normal brain function. TBIs span from mild (MTBIs), causing a temporary change in consciousness, to severe, which can bring about amnesia or a coma. Most TBIs are concussions or other mild TBI.
Following are some events can cause TBI:
- falls, particularly in children from birth to four years old and adults 75 years and older;
- motor vehicle accidents;
- shaken baby syndrome (SBS); and
- artillery blasts—for active-duty military in a war zone.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
A concussion is considered a mild TBI because it usually—but not always—is not life threatening. Even so, gone untreated, a concussion leads to long-term physical, psychological, and cognitive impairment.
Concussion generally affects the individual in four areas:
- Thinking and Remembering—cloudy thinking, feeling “slow,” poor concentration, trouble retaining new information
- Physical—headache, fuzzy or blurry vision, dizziness, nausea or vomiting soon after injury, balance problems, sensitivity to light or sound, tiredness, lack of energy
- Emotional/Mood—irritability, sadness, nervousness, anxiety, increase in emotionalism
- Sleep—sleeping more or less than usual, trouble falling asleep
The symptoms of a concussion may present immediately, days or months later, or once the person resumes normal activity and experiences the pressures of everyday life. Signs of a problem may escape the injured person, his or her doctor, and loved ones.
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury
In addition to causing coma or amnesia, severe TBI may have a number of short- or long-term problems affecting
- cognitive function, such as memory and attention;
- motor function, such as coordination difficulties, weakness in the extremities, and balance issues;
- sensory function, such as hearing, vision, and touch; and
- emotion, manifesting in aggression, difficulty with impulse control, depression, anxiety, and personality changes.
Signs of Trouble
Occasionally a concussion causes a blood clot to develop on the brain, which causes the brain to be pushed against the skull. Following are symptoms that should prompt a call to the doctor:
- a headache that gets worse and doesn’t go away;
- diminished coordination;
- ongoing vomiting or nausea; or
- slurred speech.
Family or caregivers should take someone to an emergency room if the individual experiences any of these symptoms:
- drowsiness or inability to be awakened;
- one pupil larger than the other;
- inability to recognize familiar people or surroundings;
- increasing confusion, restlessness, or agitation;
- unusual behavior; or
- loss of consciousness, however brief.
Additional symptoms to watch for in children are if the child
- won’t stop crying and can’t be consoled; or
- won’t nurse or eat.
Traumatic brain injury must be identified and treated. If someone you love suffered TBI that was not caught or not treated properly, contact the Louisville medical malpractice attorneys at Gray and White Law. Call us at 502-210-8942 or toll free at 888-450-4456 to set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation.