According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 5.3 million people in the U.S. who are suffering from disabilities due to traumatic brain injury (TBI). Every year, about 185,000 are added to their number, while another 50,000 die. TBI is, actually, a major cause of death and disability in the U.S. and in the rest of the world.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI), also called intracranial injury, refers to any type of injury occurring in the brain. It is the result of an external force (a violent blow or jolt to the head) that traumatically injures the brain or which causes brain dysfunction. The three major roots of this external force are motor vehicle accident, falls, gunshot wound and violence.
Traumatic brain injury has many types. These include:
Concussion. The most common type of traumatic brain injury, concussion occurs when the blood vessels in the brain are stretched and cranial nerves are damaged. Its causes include trauma to the brain due to gunshot wounds, a car accident resulting to a whiplash injury, and violent shaking of the head.
Contusion. A contusion is bruising and swelling that affects the tissue of the brain. This injury is usually sustained in car accidents, when the head hits apart of the vehicle, like the steering wheel or an airbag. Among younger individuals, this injury is mostly sports related. Depending on its severity, the symptoms of brain contusion include loss of consciousness that lasts from a few minutes to an hour or longer, immobilizing headaches, insomnia, loss of memory, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, trouble speaking and, if left untreated changes in attitude and behavior.
Coup-Contrecoup Injury. This injury occurs when, due to the force impact to the head, the brain is slammed into the opposite side of the skull, causing the additional contusion.
Diffuse Axonal Injury. This injury is also known as Shaken Baby Syndrome or Abusive head trauma (AHT). Its cause, which includes strong shaking of the head, results to the tearing of brain nerve tissues. This disturbance in the brain can lead to brain damage or death.
Locked in Syndrome. This rare neurological condition, which usually results from a stroke, damages part of the brainstem. In this type of injury, a person remains conscious, however, his/her body and most of the facial muscles, except the eyes, are paralyzed.
Penetrating Injury. Also called open head injury, a penetrating injury occurs when a sharp object, like a bullet, enters the brain and causes a wide area of damage. Penetrating injuries are serious medical emergencies; these can cause either permanent disability or death.
Acquired Brain Injury. This injury to the brain occurs after birth.
Brain injuries require intensive emergency treatment, prolonged medical care or both; it can deplete family resources and savings. Many times, however, accidents resulting to TBI are due to someone else’s actions or failure to act in accordance to what is expected of him/her.
These acts of negligence are the bases of tort suits wherein victims or their families seek compensation for their injured loved one.
So much is at stake in the outcome of lawsuits that seek compensation to the damages suffered by victims and their families. While nothing will undo the harm done to victims, the compensation will help see to their proper caring, treatment and continuous medication.