Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries can be devastating and cause permanent injury affecting many aspects of day-to-day life.
If you have suffered a brain injury as a result of someone else’s carelessness, you should immediately seek legal advice. You can contact Ed Scher for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation, and he will help you analyze your options.
If you need non-legal help but don’t know where to start, consider calling the Brain Injury Association of America or your state brain injury association.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about traumatic brain injury.
Note: The answers to the following questions are intended to provide general information about traumatic brain injury. The principal source for these answers is the Centers for Disease Control. The information provided here is no substitute for medical advice and treatment. If you think you or someone you know has a traumatic brain injury, contact your health care provider. Your health care provider can refer you to a neurologist, neuropsychologist, neuropsychiatrist, neurosurgeon, or specialist in rehabilitation. Getting help soon after the injury by trained specialists might speed recovery.
What is traumatic brain injury (or TBI)?
The Centers For Disease Control define a traumatic brain injury as an injury caused by a blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.
How many people sustain a traumatic brain injury each year?
According to CDC reports, 1.4 million people are treated at U.S. hospitals for TBI each year.
- 50,000 die;
- 235,000 are hospitalized; and
- 1.1 million are treated and released from an emergency department.
- Among children up to 14 years, TBI results each year in an estimated:
- 2,685 deaths;
- 37,000 hospitalizations; and
- 435,000 emergency department visits annually.
The number of people with TBI who are not seen in an emergency department or who receive no care is unknown.
What are the leading causes
According to the CDC, the leading causes of traumatic brain injury are falls (28%); motor vehicle-traffic crashes (20%); “Struck by/against events” – including collisions with a moving or stationary object in sports and recreation (19%); and assaults (11%). Blasts are a leading cause of TBI for active duty military personnel in war zones.
About 75% of the traumatic brain injuries that occur each year are concussions or other forms of “mild” TBI.
What are the signs and symptoms of TBI?
According to the CDC, the signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can be subtle and vary from person to person. Symptoms of a TBI may not appear until days or weeks following the injury; or the symptoms might exist but not be recognized because the person looks fine while acting or feeling differently.
The signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury can be subtle. The following are some common signs and symptoms (but not a complete list of symptoms) of a TBI:
- Headaches or neck pain that do not go away;
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions;
- Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading;
- Getting lost or easily confused;
- Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation;
- Mood changes (such as feeling sad or angry for no reason);
- Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping);
- Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance;
- Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions;
- Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily;
- Loss of sense of smell or taste;
- Fatigue and loss of energy;and
- Ringing in the ears.
Children with a brain injury can have the same symptoms as adults, but it is often harder for them to let others know how they feel. Call your child’s doctor if they have had a blow to the head and you notice any of these symptoms:
- Tiredness or listlessness;
- Irritability or crankiness (will not stop crying or cannot be consoled);
- Changes in eating (will not eat or nurse);
- Changes in sleep patterns;
- Changes in the way the child plays;
- Changes in performance at school;
- Lack of interest in favorite toys or activities;
- Loss of new skills, such as toilet training;
- Loss of balance or unsteady walking; or
What are the long-term outcomes of TBI?
The symptoms associated with the majority of “mild” traumatic brain injury cases resolve within a year or two. But sometimes the symptoms can be permanent. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that at least 5.3 million Americans (approximately 2% of the U.S. population) currently have a long-term or lifelong need for help to perform activities of daily living as a result of a TBI.
TBI can cause a wide range of functional changes affecting thinking (including cognitive abilities, memory, executive function, reasoning, impulse control), sensation (including touch, taste, and smell), language (communication skills, ability to express ideas, ability to understand), and emotions (including depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness). It can also cause epilepsy and increase the risk for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other brain disorders that become more prevalent with age.
Repeated “mild” TBIs occurring over an extended period of time (i.e., months or years) can result in cumulative neurological and cognitive deficits. Repeated “mild” TBIs occurring within a short period of time (i.e., hours, days, or weeks) can be catastrophic or fatal.
Where can I get more information about brain injury?
For more information, visit the Brain Injury Association of your state or the Brain Injury Association of America.
The Centers For Disease Control has an excellent website with links to other useful resources:
Where can I get more information about brain injury?