Traumatic Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury is caused by an impact to the head causing the brain to bounce or violently shift within the skull. The severe movement of the brain can cause a tearing of brain tissue, resulting in significant and often permanent brain damage. Major causes of brain injury include motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, employment-related injuries, military combat injuries, assaults, domestic violence and child abuse.
Traumatic brain injuries are categorized according to mechanism, severity and location of injury. Traumatic brain injuries can result from the head striking an object or being struck by an object. A closed head injury occurs when the force or impact does not fracture the skull. This type of injury is usually the result of blunt force trauma, such as assault. A penetrating head injury occurs when a sharp object penetrates the skull, resulting in the exposure of brain matter or tissue. Brain damage can occur at the initial injury site or on the opposite side of the brain, known as coup and contrecoup injuries. Contrecoup injuries usually occur when the head strikes a moving object, such as in motor vehicle accidents. Primary medical concerns are focused on the restoration of adequate blood and oxygen supplies to the brain. Surgery is often necessary to reduce brain swelling and to repair ruptured or damaged blood vessels.
A large percentage of patients suffering from traumatic brain injury may suffer from significant brain deterioration caused by cellular, biochemical and organ damage. Permanent disability has been estimated in approximately 65% to 70% of patients with moderate brain injuries and up to 100% in patients with severe injuries.
Lifelong complications from traumatic brain injury include physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral issues. Comatose patients may suffer medical complications including infections, respiratory failure, seizures and a risk of blood clots or stroke. Memory loss may be permanent. Psychiatric disorders may result from traumatic brain injury, including lack of impulse or anger control, personality changes, obsessive compulsive disorders, major depression or schizophrenia. Movement disorders are common, including lack of muscle coordination and partial paralysis.
Financial and emotional burdens can be overwhelming for a family caring for a loved one suffering from traumatic brain injury. Prognosis is uncertain and treatment costs can escalate, depending on severity and extent of the injury. Rehabilitation involves physical therapy, cognitive therapy and psychological treatment. In severe cases, rehabilitation facilities, private nursing care and home health care may be necessary. Long term medical and rehabilitation care may not be covered by health insurance or disability insurance policies.
Families with a loved one suffering from traumatic brain injury should seek legal consultation to explore compensation available for long term medical treatment and rehabilitation services. Law firms specializing in traumatic brain injury litigation have access to medical and financial experts, critical in the assessment of potential litigation. Loss of current and future earnings, as well as loss of savings programs such as 401K plans will be considered. A personal injury lawsuit can be filed following a motor vehicle accident. Lawsuits can be filed against employers, negligent product manufacturers, branches of military services and individuals accused of domestic violence or child abuse. Families should seek legal consultation immediately after the diagnosis of traumatic brain injury in order to protect the statute of limitations, which in most jurisdictions is two years following the accident or definitive diagnosis of traumatic brain injury.