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Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injuries

3D Image of a BrainMany accident victims cope with the constant limitations of a broken arm or fractured leg, getting through the pain and frustration one day at a time. But what if someone was suffering from an injury that affected every facet of their lives, but was impossible to see with the naked eye? This is the reality for over 5 million Americans living with the long-term effects of traumatic brain injury—and the odds are you will meet at least one of these in your lifetime.

Anyone who has suffered trauma to the head, neck, or brain could potentially be diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI can be mild, causing a brief loss of consciousness and mild confusion, or severe, causing extensive memory loss and permanent behavioral and cognitive changes.

What Are the Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries?

While a number of accidents can cause brain injuries, the most common involve a blow to the head or oxygen loss to the brain, such as:

  • Concussion. One of the mildest forms of TBI is a concussion, which is caused when someone hits his or her head or experiences a severe shaking of the head. Most concussions will heal without intervention within a few days.
  • Hematoma. A hematoma is a blood clot caused by bleeding inside the brain, or in the layer between the brain and the skull. Treatment for a hematoma involves stopping the bleeding and preventing blood clots from traveling through the body (where they could cause a stroke).
  • Brain contusion. Car accidents and sports are major causes of brain contusions, or bruising of brain tissue. A contusion occurs when a sudden force causes the brain to slam against the sides of the skull, resulting in bruising and swelling.
  • Skull fracture. Damage to the skull places a brain at risk of infection, swelling, blood loss, and blood clots, all of which can have fatal effects. Simple fractures may only require rest to heal, while depressed fractures may need surgery to “lift” the bone fragments off of the brain and discourage swelling.
  • Oxygen deprivation. It only takes a few minutes of oxygen loss to cause permanent brain damage. Oxygen deprivation to the brain, known as hypoxic brain injury, can be caused by strangulation, toxic fumes, smoke inhalation, surgical errors, and birth injuries.
  • Laceration. A cut or break in the brain tissue is known medically as a laceration. These injuries occur as a result of cuts or tears during brain surgery, head trauma that forces the skull into the brain, or a foreign object traveling into the skull.

What Are the Common Symptoms of Brain Injuries?

Although brain injuries can have lifelong effects, they are notoriously difficult to spot in the early stages. Many patients have no idea that they are suffering from a brain injury, even if they are experiencing classic symptoms of head trauma. If you have sustained any injury to the head or neck, go to the emergency room immediately if you are suffering one or more of the following:

  • Vision problems
  • Strange smells or tastes
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating, reading, or paying attention
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Mood swings or irritability
  • Participating in risky activities

How Does a Brain Injury Affect a Person’s Everyday Life?

Both mild and severe brain injuries can have devastating effects for patients. A “mild” head injury may cause difficulty recalling names and faces or performing normal daily activities, while a severe TBI can cause an inability to walk or result in a completely comatose state. Many patients with a severe TBI require extensive mental and physical rehabilitation to “re-learn” lost abilities, with regular therapy sessions continuing for a year or more.

Brain injuries not only affect a person’s personal life, they can take a toll on work ability and social interaction as well. People may feel frustrated or ashamed of their conditions, shutting themselves away from their family and friends. Others will be forced to retire early or seek alternate employment due to an inability to perform higher cognitive functions or read social cues.

If you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury, there is help available. Our attorneys can help get you the compensation you deserve for your injuries, affording you the very best of care during your recovery. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation, or call us at 800-237-3334 to discuss the details of your case.