Losing the Life You Once Had – The Dire Consequences of a Traumatic Brain Injury
In thousands of cases of traumatic brain injury each year, victims have their very lives upended. As a result of a TBI, the lives of thousands of people are forever altered – and with no real hope of regaining what they have lost. With that said, there are also situations in which TBIs are more transitory. There are also aftereffects of traumatic brain injuries that can and do respond to rehabilitation and treatment provided by professionals.
Despite there being hope for improvement in some cases, traumatic brain injury has the potential for causing pervasive, persistent, permanent injury to a person in a number of different ways, according to the John Hopkins University Medical Center. These are:
- Altered states of consciousness
- Physical complications
- Intellectual problems
- Communication problems
- Sensory problems
- Behavioral changes
- Emotional changes
- Degenerative brain diseases
As a result of these persistent and significant permanent injuries and disabilities, a victim of someone else’s negligence that results in a TBI is entitled to seek compensation for a full spectrum of losses. Legally speaking, injuries, damages, and losses that can be said to stem from the action or inaction of the party that caused the accident or incident that resulted in a TBI are what are known as compensable damages. These are also known as actual damages, according to Cornell University School of Law.
Altered States of Consciousness
There are four types of altered states of consciousness that can occur in the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury. These are coma, vegetative state, minimally conscious state, and brain death.
Coma occurs when a person is unconscious and unaware of what is occurring. An individual in a coma is not able to respond to any stimulus. Coma results from widespread brain damage, usually to all parts of a TBI victim’s brain. People to emerge from a coma. In the alternative, an individual can end up in a vegetative state.
A vegetative state is the result of a TBI that results in widespread brain damage. A person is unaware of surroundings. An individual is unaware of surroundings, although that person may open his or her eyes. An individual may also make sounds, respond to reflexes, or even move (at least to some degree). A vegetative state can become persistent and last for the duration of a person’s life.
A minimally conscious state occurs when an individual experiences a severely altered state of consciousness. A person in this type of state demonstrates signs of environmental awareness and signs of self-awareness. A minimal conscious state can be a transitional state between a coma or vegetative state to a more complete recovery.
Brain death occurs when there is no detectable brain activity. Brain death is not reversible. Brain death is such that if a breathing device is removed, breathing will stop, the heart will fail, and all signs of life cease.
Physical consequences and complications associated with a traumatic brain injury can vary by severity. The most commonplace types of physical consequences and complications are:
- Seizure. Seizures can occur directly after a TBI. They can also occur any time during the early stages following this type of injury. They can also happen even years after a TBI occurred. Recurring seizures are classified as post-traumatic epilepsy.
- Fluid buildup. What is known as cerebrospinal fluid may accumulate in spaces with the brain following a TBI. This can result in swelling and pressure in a TBI victim’s brain.
- Infections. Penetrating wounds and skull fractures that result in traumatic brain injuries can result in infections. Infections can spread from the brain throughout the nervous system.
- Blood vessel damage. A TBI can result in damage to both large and small vessels in the brain. This damage can lead to more significant problems like strokes, blood clots, and other medical issues.
- Headaches. Frequent headaches are commonplace after a TBI. They oftentimes begin about a week after a traumatic brain injury and may persist for months.
- Vertigo. Finally, vertigo – characterized by dizziness – is relatively common following a TBI.
Intellectual problems following a traumatic brain injury can come in one of two forms. These are cognitive problems and executive functioning problems. Cognitive problems that commonly occur following a TBI include a negative impact on:
Executive function problems that may occur following a traumatic brain injury include an impact on:
- Problem solving
- Decision making
- Beginning tasks
- Completing tasks
A common set of negative consequences associated with a traumatic brain injury are communication problems. Communication problems may be temporary or more enduring. In some cases, long term communication issues can be lessened or even resolved through therapy.
The most common types of communication problems or issues that are associated with traumatic brain injury are:
- Difficulty understanding speech
- Difficulty understanding writing
- Difficulty speaking
- Difficulty writing
- Inability to organize thoughts and ideas
- Difficulty following conversations
- Problems participating in conversations
- Difficulty understanding nonverbal cues
- Trouble starting conversations
- Trouble stopping conversations
- Inability to use muscles needed to form words
An array of sensory issues, difficulties, and problems can follow in the wake of a traumatic brain injury. These include:
- Persistent ringing in a person’s ears
- Impaired hand-eye coordination
- Difficulty recognizing objects
- Double vision
- Blind spots
- Skin issues like itching, pain, and tingling
- Taste issues
- Smell issues
- Balance problems
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to sound
- Sensitivity to odors
An individual who has suffered a more serious traumatic brain disease is likely to exhibit behavior changes. These may lessen over time and can be addressed at least to come degree with rehabilitation and professional assistance. These behavioral changes include:
- Issues with self-control
- Lack of awareness of abilities
- Risky behavior
- Challenges in social situations
- Physical outbursts
- Verbal outbursts
Emotional changes are frequent issues in the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury. The most commonplace emotional issues or changes that occur following a TBI include:
- Mood wrings
- Lack of empathy
Degenerative Brain Diseases
Three types of degenerative brain diseases can develop following a traumatic brain injury:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Dementia pugilistica
Oftentimes, indeed nearly always, a person who suffers a more serious traumatic brain injury will suffer issues and problems from among the different categories set forth a moment ago.
Most Common Causes of Traumatic Brain Injuries
Armed with a clearer understanding of the truly life-altering consequences associated with a traumatic brain injury, recognizing the most commonplace causes of TBIs is important. The most frequently occurring causes of traumatic brain injuries are:
- Automobile accidents
- Sports injuries
- Combat injuries
- Acts of violence
- Medical errors or medical malpractice
Aftereffects of a Traumatic Brain Injury and Medical Intervention
An important point needs to be made in regard to medical care and treatment following a traumatic brain injury. A crucial fact is that the aftereffects of a traumatic brain injury have the best chance of being minimized at least to some degree if medical attention promptly is obtained. Any delay in obtaining medical care and treatment, even for a short period, can result in the aggravation of even a relatively mild TBI.
Your Legal Rights After a Traumatic Brain Injury
If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury as the result of the negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct of someone else, you need to be as proactive as possible to protect your legal interests.
The first step in protecting and furthering your legal interests is to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced traumatic brain injury lawyer like a member of the legal team at (insert name of law firm). You can reach us any time that is convenient for you by calling us at (insert telephone number).