Little Known Facts about Traumatic Brain Injuries

By Peter DePaolis

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are listed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a leading cause of mortality and disability in the U.S.

It is estimated that 153 people in the U.S. die from a brain injury each day, and those who are lucky to survive still face effects that last a few days to the rest of their lives, depending on the severity of the injury.

A jolt, bump, or blow to the head can cause a TBI. Essentially, any strike to the head that makes the brain not function is typically a TBI. Not all hits to the head result in a TBI. But if brain function is disrupted, it would be classified as one. Also, TBIs range in severity from minor to severe. Most people have suffered a minor TBI in their life, known more commonly as a concussion.

It is vital for loved ones and individuals to understand what TBIs are, how they affect their victims, and what steps to take when a TBI results in long-term deficits. Most people are unaware of the severity of a brain injury, which is why they do not seek medical treatment right away when they should. Early medical intervention may help prevent long-term complications, especially those associated with brain bleeds and intracranial pressure. Therefore, the more you and your family know about these common injuries, the better.

Facts about TBIs for Residents of Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland to Know

Everyone is at risk for a brain injury, but few people understand the cause and effects once they occur. TBIs are injuries to the brain. And when the human body relies so much on one single organ, you can see why it is imperative you understand how these injuries occur, what can happen, and seek medical attention even if you feel okay.

Traumatic Brain Injuries Are Not Uncommon

People are under the misconception that traumatic brain injuries are an infrequent occurrence, but that is not the case. In 2013, the CDC stated that there were 2.8 million TBI-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations in the U.S. That same year, TBIs contributed to 50,000 fatalities. These numbers equate to over 7,000 TBI emergency room visits or hospitalizations per day in a single year across the country – further proving these are, in fact, not rare at all and are extremely common.

Children Are at the Highest Risk

You would assume that TBIs are more common in car accidents, which happen by the hour in the U.S. However, the three age groups at highest risk for suffering a TBI include small children between the ages of birth and four years, teens from ages 15 to 19 years, and older adults ages 65 and higher.

TBIs Can Increase the Risk for Long-Term Brain Disorders

A TBI is not a concussion or bruise that goes away. In cases of moderate to severe TBIs, including repetitive TBI instances, a person can suffer long-term brain disorders and diseases. Links between TBIs and epilepsy (seizure disorders) have been found along with an increased risk for Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and dementia.

Furthermore, when someone suffers multiple TBIs from sports or work (such as military veterans, boxers, football players, and participants of high-contact sports), they increase their risk of developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a brain condition that only occurs after repeated TBI events, and the symptoms often mimic early onset dementia, which is why it is commonly misdiagnosed. Furthermore, diagnosis for CTE can only be done with an autopsy. Therefore, most patients will assume they have Alzheimer’s or dementia, and no one will know the truth until death.

CTE can strike as early as the late 20s or early 30s, especially for those who start professional sport careers early on. The initial symptoms include memory and thinking difficulty, personality disorders, insomnia, and even aggression. A notorious case of CTE is a former football star, Aaron Hernandez. He was convicted and sentenced for murder. But later, after his suicide in prison, it was discovered that he suffered from a severe case of CTE – most likely from repeated concussions suffered on the field.

Not All Injuries to the Head Result in a TBI

You might get struck in the head, but you do not automatically fall into the TBI category. It requires a disruption of brain function to classify as a TBI. However, the most common type of TBI is a minor one, which usually involves a concussion.

A person does not have to lose consciousness to suffer from a concussion either. In fact, many concussed individuals never lose consciousness, but they still have experienced trauma to their brain.

Not All TBIs Have the Same Symptoms or Outcomes

Researchers are still studying the effects of TBIs, their severity, and symptoms. Patients do not always respond similarly to TBIs either.

A mild injury may or may not have a loss of consciousness, and a person could recover in just a few weeks without complications. Other times, a significant blow to the head could result in a coma or amnesia that lasts for years.

Symptoms can appear in all stages and types of TBIs, but the more common ones include:

  • Physical: Headaches, persistent migraines, balance issues, blurred vision, seizures, sensory perception issues, trouble with speech or swallowing, insomnia or sleeping too much, bowel and bladder control issues, sexual function issues, motor impairment, milder vision problems.
  • Emotional: Extreme personality changes, confusion, inability to form a sentence or grasping at words, communication problems, difficulty with reason and focus, memory impairments, depression or anxiety, poor concentration, unexplained mood swings, attention span issues, feeling disoriented, misbehaving, severe aggression.

When TBIs Are the Result of Someone’s Negligence, You Have Rights

TBIs can happen during sports, in a car accident, after a slip and fall, and in numerous other situations. When someone’s negligence caused the incident that led to someone’s severe head trauma, the party at-fault is financially liable for the damages they have caused.

You have the right to hold them accountable. Speak with an attorney today from Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP, to discuss your options. We understand that you are suffering from a serious if not a debilitating injury, and you need legal assistance.

Contact us at one of our three office locations closest to you or contact us online with your questions to start a free consultation.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.