According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1.5 million Americans suffer a traumatic brain injury every year. These can occur from sports accidents, slip and falls, military service, and car accidents.
If you believe you have recently suffered a brain injury due to an accident, it is reasonable to be concerned about how your medical condition can influence your short term ability to recover, and your life in the long term. There are many different aspects of being treated for and recovering from a traumatic brain injury that will be specific to your case.
Academic and medical research about traumatic brain injury recovery is still evolving. Your treatment options will likely be related to whether or not you were diagnosed with a mild versus a major traumatic brain injury.
Many people who suffer brain injury are able to recover and live fulfilling and wonderful lives. What follows is some information about the types of injuries, how to tell if you are suffering from a brain injury and what you might expect as you begin the recovery process. Seeing a doctor and getting a formal evaluation is critical for anyone who might be suffering from a brain injury.
Tips for Surviving TBI Injury
The recovery process for a traumatic brain injury will look different from one patient to another. The healthy brain tissue of an injured party can be affected by swelling, bleeding and changes in brain chemistry. A moderate or severe TBI can also lead to a period of disorientation or confusion and the disruption of sleeping patterns.
The fastest improvement for TBIs happens during the six months following an injury. This period often allows the person with the injury to think better and move more effectively. The overall brain health of the individual can also be essential for supporting maximum recovery from a TBI. This includes avoiding drugs and alcohol and getting regular exercise.
Research from a TBI Model System program shows that those people who have suffered a moderate to severe TBI can have ongoing effects for as much as two years after the initial accident. Approximately 50% of people were able to drive again and 30% were able to hold down a job. Up to 30% of the individual in the program are expected to need assistance from another person. It’s important as you look at recovery to understand that additional support for your physical and mental condition may be needed for you to move on with your life.
Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Symptoms
TBIs can have far reaching psychological and physical events. Some of these might appear immediately after the car accident, or other incident, but others might take weeks to develop.
The signs of a mild traumatic brain injury can include difficulty sleeping, headache, drowsiness or fatigue, loss of consciousness, sleeping more than usual, loss of balance or dizziness. Sensory and mental symptoms might also apply such as sensitivity to sound or light, blurred vision, feeling depressed or anxious and memory or concentration problems.
With treatment and attention to the changes in symptoms and behavior, those with mild TBIs can often recover fully from their brain injury within six months. It's important to see a physician as a mild TBI is still a serious injury that requires prompt attention and an accurate diagnosis.
Moderate/Severe Brain Injury Symptoms
The symptoms of a mild TBI can also be associated with a moderate or major TBI. However, the physical symptoms of a more serious traumatic brain injury may also include an inability to awaken from sleep, repeated nausea or vomiting, loss of consciousness that goes up to several minutes or even hours, loss of coordination, seizures and clear fluids that drain from the ears or nose.
The mental or cognitive symptoms associated with moderate to severe TBIs include slurred speech, profound confusion, agitation and coma. For infants and young children with brain injuries resulting from an event, such as a car accident, be watchful of their behavior or mood as they might not be able to communicate sensory issues or headaches easily.
For a child with a TBI, a parent might observe drowsiness, a change in ability to pay attention, a change in sleep habits, easy or unusual irritability, or a change in eating or nursing habits. The terms mild, moderate, and severe are used to describe the impact of the injury to the individual’s overall brain function.
The most common causes of traumatic brain injuries include violence, sports injuries, vehicle crashes, falls and explosive blasts. TBIs from car accidents can be substantially mitigated by driving a vehicle with airbags and using seat belts and car seats appropriately.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options for a TBI
Traumatic brain injuries are typically classified as emergencies and the consequences for them can get worse much quickly without treatment. The 15-point test known as the Glasgow Coma Scale can help medical personnel determine the initial severity of a brain injury. Higher scores refer to less severe injuries. Imaging tests such as MRIs and computerized tomography scans can also assist physicians with determining when a mild injury has occurred.
The treatment is based on the overall severity of the injury. Mild TBIs typically require rest and over the counter pain relievers, and the individual should also be monitored closely at home. More in-depth treatments, such as surgery or rehabilitation, could also be recommended for a person who has sustained a major traumatic brain injury.
While your recovery period may have a specific timeframe, a consult with your doctor about what you might expect based on the severity of your injury and your treatment options is recommended. In some cases, a mild traumatic brain injury settlement from the cause of injury may be the only way for you to afford the treatments you need to heal.
Since these treatment options might be extensive and costly, speaking with a personal injury lawyer about your car accident and traumatic brain injury settlement is also recommended.
Was Your TBI Caused by an Accident?
Was a TBI one of the diagnoses you received after being hurt in a car accident or other negligence-related incident? These critical days and weeks following the accident are essential for maximizing your recovery opportunities; don’t wait to get help from a team of experienced California personal injury lawyers.