What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

 Brain injuries are very complex injuries and most personal injury attorney's do not thoroughly understand the very severe aftereffects such injuries have, both on the person injured, and on his or her family and friends.

Anyone considering hiring an attorney for a brain injury case needs to be careful. The attorney should be a member of the Brain Injury Association of America and should have a lot of experience in handling these cases. Brain injuries are not places for beginners to handle. I’ve written this long article to explain much of what I’ve learned about brain injuries during my years of practice.

A brain injury is an impact or disturbance of the brain, often caused by trauma but sometimes caused organically. By organically, I mean an injury such as a Stroke or heart attack.

A Traumatic brain injury is an injury caused by an external force exerting itself on the brain.  This usually means a jolt or violent blow to the head or a penetrating injury into the brain cavity.

A traumatic brain injury often  is the result of a fall; however, motor vehicle accidents also result in  many traumatic brain injuries. People aged 75 and older have the greatest incidence of being hospitalized and dying from their brain injury.

A Traumatic brain injury can be mild, moderate or severe.

Mild injuries can result in just a temporary dysfunction of brain cells, while serious injuries can cause torn tissues, heavy bleeding, bruising or other damage to the brain, causing long-term disease or death

Penetrating injuries are defined as pieces of skull entering the brain.

How a brain injury is classified l depends on the presence or absence of unconsciousness  or other altered mental state and the length of unconsciousness.  The severity of other symptoms also plays into the classification scheme.

Even having a “mild”  brain injury can result in long-lasting and serious complications.

Brain injuries as a result of trauma can affect cognition in a couple of ways:
  1. There are direct effects from the trauma, including prolonged unconsciousness or alteration of consciousness , amnesia of the event, learning difficulties, confusion, having trouble remembering new information, being unsteady, lacking coordination, having difficulty speaking, and difficulty with hearing or vision.
  2. There are potential long term effects such  as an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia that occur many years following the injury.

If you experience  a traumatic brain injury or know someone who has, seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if the symptoms seem mild.

If a person is unconscious for more than a minute, call an ambulance for medical attention.

Be aware that a loss of consciousness is not necessary for a brain injury to occur. An alteration of consciousness, such as dizziness at the scene may be enough..

This is also true if the person has seizures, has worsening symptoms or has repeated vomiting.

A traumatic brain injury can have many causes. Some cause   minor brain injury, while others cause moderate or serious brain injury.

The following are some of the ways the brain and head can be injured traumatically:

A severe jolt which can tear vessels in the brain

A severe blow to the head or jolt can cause the brain to move back and forth in the skull

A small point of impact on the head

A blast injury from an explosive device

A penetrating injury to the skull

An injury causing bleeding in or around the brain

Common events which result in brain injuries include falls, such as slipping in the bathtub, falling out of bed, falling off ladders, or falling off steps.

Motor vehicle accidents are common causes of traumatic brain injuries and include automobile, bicycle or motorcycle accidents, as well as pedestrian accidents.

Violence causes about 20 percent of all traumatic brain injuries. This includes domestic violence, gunshot wounds and child abuse.

Sports-related injuries such as in boxing, football, soccer, skateboarding, baseball, hockey and other extreme sports can cause traumatic brain injury.
Especially in the military, explosive blasts and related combat injuries cause traumatic brain injury. The mechanism of injury is believed to be secondary to the pressure wave from the blast traveling through the brain.  Penetrating wounds to the brain and skull from gunfire also have a high risk of causing a traumatic brain injury. 
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