San Francisco Traumatic Brain Injury Lawyer
The medical community has focused a significant amount of resources on developing new diagnostic and treatment options for individuals who have suffered a traumatic brain injury. This has yielded new imaging modalities, surgical procedures, and medication options. This has also improved the overall prognosis for individuals who have suffered a TBI. Despite these advances, brain injuries are still common and can impact the people who suffered the damage and their family members.
In this article:
- National Statistics on Traumatic Brain Injuries
- What is a Traumatic Brain Injury, and How is it Caused?
- Can Brain Damage Go Unnoticed?
- Common Mechanisms of Head Trauma
- What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury?
- How is a Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?
- Treatment of a Traumatic Brain Injury: Management of Intracranial Pressure
- Common Complications of Head Injury
Even though traumatic brain injuries are serious, they are not as rare as many people think. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released crucial statistics on traumatic brain injuries. Based on the information:
- In 2014, around 2.5 million people visited the emergency department due to concerns of a traumatic brain injury.
- A traumatic brain injury was listed as a contributing cause of death in nearly 50,000 individuals.
- Close to 224,000 people were hospitalized due to TBIs in 2019.
- More than two-and-a-half million people visited the emergency department due to concerns about a traumatic brain injury.
- Over the past decade, the rate at which people visit the emergency department for a traumatic brain injury has increased by 50 percent.
- More than 812,000 pediatric patients received treatment in the emergency department due to concerns of a TBI in 2014.
- Since 2001, the rate at which concussions have been diagnosed in children playing competitive sports has more than doubled.
National statistics on traumatic brain injuries paint a grim picture, indicating everyone should be wary of a TBI and its impacts.What is a Traumatic Brain Injury, and How is it Caused?
The medical community defines a traumatic brain injury as any impact that disrupts the typical function of the brain. Importantly, not all blows to the head will lead to a traumatic brain injury; however, it is better to err on the safe side. These neurological injuries could be caused by:
- A simple bump on the head
- A direct, blunt impact to the skull
- A closed head injury
- Any penetrating injury that goes beneath the scalp
The world of traumatic brain injuries is wide and varied. Unfortunately, everyone is at risk of a traumatic brain injury, including babies, children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly. Symptoms of a brain injury may not be noticed immediately, resulting in a delay in medical treatment and diagnosis.Can Brain Damage Go Unnoticed?
Unfortunately, traumatic brain injuries do have the potential to be missed. As a brief example, the NFL has spent a lot of time addressing the issue of concussions. If people sustain repeated concussions, they could develop a chronic medical condition known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, leading to some powerful motor, sensory, and mental health issues. Furthermore, if people suffer a second concussion while recovering from the first one, they might develop a devastating medical complication known as Second Impact Syndrome, leading to death. Because of this, traumatic brain injuries cannot be overlooked and must be diagnosed the first time correctly.
The consequences of missing a traumatic brain injury could include death; unfortunately, these problems also impact children. Because of this, anyone who has sustained forcible contact with the head or neck area should seek medical attention immediately. Treatment should start as quickly as possible, and an experienced San Francisco traumatic brain injury attorney can refer you to a top specialist nearby.Common Mechanisms of Head Trauma
To prevent traumatic brain injuries, it is vital to understand how these serious injuries might develop. There are countless ways that someone could suffer forcible contact to the head or neck area:
- Shaken Baby Syndrome - Starting with the youngest young, even infants can suffer a traumatic brain injury. Babies do not have the same muscle strength in their neck as children and adults do. Therefore, if a baby is shaken back and forth, they cannot hold their head still. A shaken baby suffers neurological damage as their brain rattles inside its skull, leading to chronic complications or even death.
- Bicycle Accidents - People of all ages, particularly children, can suffer traumatic brain injuries while riding a bike. Sometimes, children lose control of their bikes and fall. In other cases, they could be struck by a car. In any case, someone who falls off of their bike could strike their head on the ground. This impact between the skull and the pavement could lead to a traumatic brain injury. For this reason, everyone should wear a helmet when they ride a bike.
- Motor Vehicle Accidents - For adolescents and adults, one of the most common ways a traumatic brain injury is sustained is through a motor vehicle accident. While modern cars have improved safety features, including airbags and shatter-resistant windshields, people can still suffer a traumatic brain injury. While their body is restrained by a seatbelt, their head is not. People could strike their head on the dashboard, steering wheel, or window, leading to a brain injury.
- Slip and Fall Injuries - Across all ages, but mainly for the elderly, slip and fall injuries are a severe risk. It could involve a slippery floor, an icy sidewalk, or even a staircase, but they can hit their head when people fall. A traumatic brain injury can result no matter how benign the fall may appear. Slip and fall injuries are among the most common ways people sustain a traumatic brain injury. Whenever someone is involved in an accident that includes a blow to the head, it is vital to be vigilant for signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury. This can present differently depending on the type of brain injury.
Signs can vary depending on the severity of brain damage. Some of the most severe head injuries may not present with any symptoms. On the other hand, some of the most common signs of a head injury include:
- A severe headache that could vary in location and intensity
- Visible deformities across the skull
- Obvious bruises on the scalp or neck area
- Leading of blood or cerebrospinal fluid from the nose or ears
- Black eyes
- An abrupt or gradual loss of consciousness
- Confusion or disorientation to self, place, time, or purpose
- The aggravation is made worse by bright lights or loud noises
- Numbness along certain parts of the body
- The inability to see or hear
- Memory loss
- Problems moving one or more of the extremities
Not everyone who has suffered these types of brain injuries will present these signs and symptoms. Furthermore, some individuals suffering from a head injury might not present with these signs. If someone presents with signs and symptoms of a head injury, it is essential to obtain a diagnosis so that treatment can start.How is a Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosed?
Like any serious medical injury, the diagnosis starts with a thorough history and physical exam. The history consists of questions to look for signs and symptoms and a mechanism of injury consistent with a TBI. After this, the doctor conducts a physical examination to look for signs of neurological damage. This includes:
- The inability to follow three-step commands
- Signs of altered consciousness
- Motor weakness
- Numbness and tingling
The next step is imaging if the doctor is still concerned that a traumatic brain injury might have occurred. There are many different ways that doctors can take a picture of someone's head. All of them have their strengths and weaknesses. These imaging modalities include:
- X-ray - An X-ray is the oldest way to image someone's body. It is fast, cheap, and differentiates parts of the body through density. The amount of radiation in an x-ray is meager. Unfortunately, it only produces a two-dimensional image and is not very helpful if someone has suffered a traumatic brain injury. It can show a skull fracture, often when someone suffers a severe blow to the head.
- CT Scan - A Computed Tomography (CT) scan is a three-dimensional x-ray. It takes several seconds to produce a 3D image of the head. It is fast and relatively inexpensive; however, it does deliver a hefty dose of radiation. Therefore, a CT scan is not ordered lightly. A CT scan also differentiates images based on density. It is excellent at showing bleeds in the brain. It can also show skull fractures. Unfortunately, its resolution is not excellent for looking at the brain's soft tissue.
- MRI - Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is the most detailed imaging modality available. Individuals are placed in a powerful magnetic field. This magnet spins the nuclei inside each atom in the body differently depending on its charge. Then, the machine senses the way that the atoms are spinning. It uses the difference in spins to produce an image, which is remarkable in its level of clarity. This is ideal for looking at the severity of the damage inside the brain; however, it also takes a long time to produce its image. Therefore, this image is rarely used on an emergency basis. Once a TBI has been diagnosed, the next step is to start the treatment process.
The initial treatment of any traumatic brain injury focuses on ensuring the patient is stable. The doctor will look at the individual's vital signs, which include the following:
- Heart Rate
- Blood Pressure
- Respiratory Rate
- Oxygen Saturation
Often, individuals are dehydrated after a severe accident. The doctor may give the individual intravenous fluids, supplemental oxygen, antibiotics, or a blood transfusion. Once the individual's vital signs have been stabilized, the focus will be on managing the intracranial pressure inside the skull. To do this, it is necessary to measure cerebral perfusion pressure.What is Cerebral Perfusion Pressure and How is it Measured?
Often abbreviated as CPP, cerebral perfusion pressure is the blood pressure measurement inside the brain. Like water, blood flows from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure. This flow is essential to the survival of brain tissue because the blood carries oxygen and nutrients. If the pressure drops too low, the blood could stop circulating. If the pressure is too high, the brain starts to swell. The cerebral pressure can be calculated as the difference between the mean arterial pressure (the average of the various pressures inside the individual's arteries) and the intracranial pressure (the pressure inside the skull). Therefore, the mathematical equation is:
- CPP = MAP - ICP
This difference between the ICP and the MAP keeps the blood flowing throughout the brain. If the mean arterial pressure starts to drop, as in cases of blood loss, the blood flow rate within the brain will begin to decline. On the other hand, if the intracranial pressure rises, this can lead to a drop in the CPP, leading to similar consequences.Management of Intracranial Pressure
Elevated pressure inside the skull is called increased intracranial pressure (ICP). This happens following a traumatic brain injury because the brain swells inside a closed space (the skull). The brain swells after a severe impact because it responds to injury like any other body part. This swelling comes from the fluid being rushed to the injury site to start the healing process. Unfortunately, swelling inside of the brain can also be deadly. To reduce the pressure inside the skull, doctors will use different treatment options for intracranial pressure. This includes:
- Mannitol, a drug used to lower intracranial pressure
- Hyperventilation, which decreases the amount of CO2 in the blood, lowering the ICP)
- Steroids, which are used to reduce swelling
If the intracranial pressure rises, this could lead to several serious complications. Some of these complications from intracranial pressure could be life-threatening.Common Complications of Head Injury
The immediate treatment of a traumatic brain injury will focus on stabilizing the individual. The oxygen saturation of the blood needs to be maintained. The pressures inside the skull need to be managed. All bleeding must be stopped. Dehydration must be corrected. After this, the recovery process can begin; however, complications also manifest. Some of these include:What are the Leading Causes of Brain Herniation?
This is perhaps the most devastating potential complication of any traumatic brain injury. Doctors try to avoid this by closely monitoring the individual's intracranial and cerebral perfusion pressures. The brain is trapped inside the skull. If it swells inside of a closed space, the brain could herniate. This means that some of the brain tissue is forced through one of the holes in the skull, effectively killing it. Severe herniations could also lead to death.Can a Head Injury Cause Mental Trauma?
Mental health complications are often overlooked but are no less severe. When brain parts have been damaged, the person could suffer extreme personality changes. These could manifest as:
- Reduced judgment
- Lack of inhibition
- Temper tantrums and outbursts
- Psychosis, such as hallucinations and delusions
- Depression or bipolar disorder
Because of this, anyone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury should be sure to meet with a mental health counselor or psychiatrist. Mental health issues should be addressed early.What Types of Impairments Does a TBI Cause?
Possibly the most well-known complications of traumatic brain injuries involve motor and sensory changes. The brain sends motor signals to the rest of the body. It also receives sensory signals from every cell. If the brain has been damaged, it might not send motor signals accurately, leading to issues moving the arms or legs.
Ultimately, these complications can be devastating for the entire family. These complications could last for the rest of the individual's life. Families need to know that help is available. In addition to medical providers, other resources are available to assist families in need.Importance of Working with a San Francisco TBI Lawyer
Those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury often focus on their medical recovery. They might not be thinking about the ancillary issues that might arise, such as the cost related to their immediate and long-term medical care. Unfortunately, this burden often falls on loved ones and can have a devastating impact on the quality of life of the entire family. This can bring financial ruin to even the most well-off families. Therefore, contacting the best San Francisco traumatic brain injury lawyer is essential. An experienced head injury attorney can help a family by:
- Providing resources that help a person find an excellent neurologist, neuropsychologist, or other physicians with experience in traumatic brain injuries.
- Going through all of the available reports on the accident, ensuring no details have been missed.
- Working with engineers and accident experts to reconstruct what has happened at the scene and ensure that liability has been assigned appropriately.
- Providing a steady presence to guide families through the decision-making process.
- Help families earn financial awards to help cover the costs related to their injuries and damages.
- Have your traumatic brain injury attorney file paperwork with the courts and take your case to trial in San Francisco County, if necessary.
No family should feel like they have to deal with the consequences of a TBI alone. Everyone needs help during their time of need. Because of this, reach out to an experienced and compassionate brain injury attorney from the San Francisco Bay Area. You and your family could be deserving of financial compensation.
The video below features a woman who had experienced a traumatic brain injury. She shares her story along with her message of hope and inspiration.Get Help from a San Francisco Brain Injury Attorney
At AutoAccident.com, our traumatic brain injury lawyers serving the San Francisco Bay Area can help you seek maximum compensation for your losses. Contact our team of compassionate and skilled SF accident attorneys today for free, friendly advice on your TBI case at (415) 805-7284 or (800) 404-5400.
Editor's Note: updated [cha 10.19.23] Image Attribution: Pixabay.com dr cha EAS bw [cs 2617]