Traumatic Brain Injuries, referred to as TBIs, affect 2.5 million Americans a year, according to the Center for Disease and Control (CDC). Of those 2.5 million, 2.2 million are treated in an emergency department and then released, 280,000 require hospitalization, and over 50,000 die. These numbers do not reflect the untold numbers of people who never seek medical care. TBIs reflect nearly one-third of all injury-related deaths and cost the U.S. $60 billion a year in medical and lost productivity. Motor vehicle accidents are the second leading cause of TBI deaths.
Types and Causes of TBIs
TBIs are caused by a sudden jolt, blow, or penetration to the head that disrupts normal brain function. Not all head impacts lead to TBIs, and the severity of each TBI varies. The least damaging is a mild form of trauma that only briefly changes a person’s mental status or consciousness. A severe trauma is followed by an extended period of unconsciousness and/or memory loss. Brain trauma can include bleeding, swelling, shearing, stretching, or rupture of the brain tissue. Below are different types of TBI trauma, according to the Brain Injury Association of America.
Not all TBIs require direct impact. The jarring or ricocheting of the brain within the skull is enough to cause severe trauma. This type of trauma is called noncontact or internal loading and results in a diffuse axonal injury. An example of this is shaken baby syndrome.
Another type of trauma is called contact or impact loading. Impact loading happens when something strikes a person’s head or hits their head against something directly, such as the impact against a car’s side window.
A coup-contrecoup injury occurs when the original blow to the head is so strong that it causes the brain to bounce backward from the point of contact and create a diffuse injury to the other side of the head. It is a combination of impact and internal loading. An example of this is when a person hits their head on a steering wheel and the force travels through them and ricochets their brain off the back inside wall of their skull.
One of the most severe types of trauma is caused by something physically penetrating the skull. For example, a bullet or knife may penetrate the skull during a shooting or assault with a weapon.
The Recovery Process
75 percent of TBIs are concussions or other forms of more mild trauma. Under the right circumstances, victims of mild concussions and even more serious TBIs are often able to make full recoveries. The first step towards recovery is immediately seeking medical help. Your doctor will determine the severity of your TBI and will perform the necessary procedures or instruct you how to carry out the proper home-care. The CDC recommends following these guidelines for recovery and coping with a TBI:
- Get plenty of sleep
- Avoid physically demanding activities, exercise, or anything that could cause further trauma to the head
- Return to normal activities such as exercise or work only when your doctor gives you permission to do so
- Refrain from operating a vehicle until your doctor gives you permission
- Do not drink alcohol until your doctor gives you permission
- Write down things that are difficult for you to remember
- Refrain from air travel until your doctor says it is okay
- Refrain from looking at TV, phone, and computer screens until your doctor gives permission
Recovery from a TBI takes a lot of time, resources, and patience. If you have suffered a TBI resulting in a car accident that was no fault of your own, you may be able to collect damages to help pay for you medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. Call us today to begin discussing your legal options.