Carmichael Brain Injury Lawyer
Many people are curious about the differences between traumatic brain injuries and other types of neurological damage. There are many different forms of brain damage that someone can suffer and a brain injury sustained through trauma is somewhat different than other mental deficits. For example, some people may suffer brain damage through dementia while other people could develop mental deficits as a result of continuous seizures through a disorder such as epilepsy. A traumatic brain injury is neurological damage that results specifically from a traumatic event. This means that an outside force acted on the patient’s skull physically and damaged the brain tissue inside. Trauma can damage brain tissue in some ways, including:
- Cerebral Contusion: The traumatic force knocks the brain into the skull. If the skull comes to a sudden stop, such as when the head strikes the dashboard, the brain continues to move inside the skull and collides with the hard surface. This can create a bruise on the brain, just as in other areas of the body.
- Spinning Forces: It is possible for a traumatic event to take place from a violent spinning motion. If the brain spins at high speeds inside of the skull, it can “shear,” or tear, the neurons, creating brain damage. This type of injury is referred to as diffuse axonal injury.
- Pressure Damage: Bleeding and brain swelling create a form of pressure damage. The brain is encased in the skull, meaning that the space it occupies is set. If bleeding starts to occur inside of the skull, the blood takes up space and can squeeze the brain. This can lead to something called a herniation, a brain injury with severe consequences.
As alluded to above, brain bleeding can lead to a herniation. A herniation is where a portion of the brain is squeezed across various structures in the skull as a result of extra fluid or pressure, typically blood, taking up space in the skull cavity. When the brain herniates along structures in the skull, the brain tissue being forcibly moved in this manner is, typically, irreparably damaged. There are several different types of herniations, including:
- Tonsillar Herniation: A tonsillar herniation results when the cerebellar tonsils, a portion of the cerebellum, protrude out through the foramen magnum (where the brainstem typically exits). When this happens, the cerebellar tonsils compress the upper part of the spinal cord, known as the cervical region. This injury results in skyrocketing blood pressure, a plummeting heart rate, cessation of breathing, and places the patient into a coma.
- Subfalcine-Cingulate Herniation: This herniation results when brain tissue under the falx (in the middle the brain) is displaced to one side. This is the most common type of herniation. This leads to an extreme headache, small pupils, and paralysis of the leg on the opposite side of the herniation.
- Uncal Herniation: In this herniation, the medial portion of the temporal lobe pushes through the posterior fossa, placing pressure on the middle part of the brainstem. The pupil on the same side of the herniation becomes dilated. The eyes become paralyzed. The opposite side of the body from the side that is herniated becomes markedly weaker. Patients typically fluctuate in and out of consciousness.
When imaging studies such as CT scans and MRIs show bleeding within the skull cavity, the neurosurgeons can act quickly and prevent herniation from occurring. The neurosurgeons will remove a portion of the skull temporarily to allow some of the pressure in the skull cavity (from the blood and from the swelling of the brain) to build up and release naturally. When the skull is removed, the brain and skull cavity has room to expand because the skull cavity is no longer enclosed by the skull. Once the bleeding has stopped, and the brain tissue has stopped swelling, the skull can be placed back in its normal location without having any of the consequences of herniation.Novel Medical Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury
Recent research has demonstrated that lithium, a first-line treatment for patients with bipolar disorder, can be used to protect neurons in traumatic brain injury. In a traumatic brain injury, glutamate (amino acid and chemical signal) is released and damages neurons, some of them permanently. Medical research has shown that lithium may prevent glutamate from being released and damaging the neurons, a potential breakthrough and novel application for a battle-tested drug. The potential of this medication to help people who have suffered brain injuries in traumatic accidents still remains to be seen but offers some hope for injuries that are among the most devastating that people can sustain.
The video below provides more information on how traumatic brain injuries are treated.Carmichael Brain Injury Lawyers
I’m Ed Smith, a Carmichael Brain Injury Lawyer. Among the possible injuries that can be sustained in an auto accident, traumatic brain injuries are some of the most severe. If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, please contact me at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 for friendly, free advice.
I am a member of the California Chapter of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. This is a group of injury lawyers who have been rated among the top attorneys in the country. Each member of our group has settled cases or won verdicts more than $1 million.
I'm also a member of the Top One Percent.
Our past verdicts and settlements are available for viewing.
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Editor's Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy. [cha 4.3.19]