Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)

What Are Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)?

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is often heard in discussions of car accident injuries, motorcycle accidents, and other types of injuries, including sports injuries.  Often, the terms used for these types of injuries include “concussions,” “head injuries,” and “head trauma.”

These types of accident injuries happen for various reasons.  In vehicle accidents, factors such as the speeds involved, as well as other attributes of vehicle crashes, such as the impact force, often contribute to or cause accidents injuries that involve the head, neck, spinal cord and brain.

The NIH (National Institute of Health) NINDS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) page titled “NINDS Traumatic Brain Injury Information Page“ has a description of TBI, as described as:

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), a form of acquired brain injury, occurs when a sudden trauma causes damage to the brain. TBI can result when the head suddenly and violently hits an object, or when an object pierces the skull and enters brain tissue.  Symptoms of a TBI can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain.   A person with a mild TBI may remain conscious or may experience a loss of consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. Other symptoms of mild TBI include headache, confusion, lightheadedness, dizziness, blurred vision or tired eyes, ringing in the ears, bad taste in the mouth, fatigue or lethargy, a change in sleep patterns, behavioral or mood changes, and trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking.  A person with a moderate or severe TBI may show these same symptoms, but may also have a headache that gets worse or does not go away, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, an inability to awaken from sleep, dilation of one or both pupils of the eyes, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.

Whenever someone sustains a significant head impact, it is recommended that a (very) prompt and  thorough medical exam is performed to assess whether a TBI has occurred.  Of note, many types of head injury symptoms – even those that are serious if not potentially life-threatening – can take (many) hours to become apparent to the person injured.  Typically, a visit to the emergency room may include testing for bleeding on the brain and other potentially problematical health conditions.

There doesn’t have to be an “open wound” or penetration of the skull in order for a serious traumatic brain injury to occur.  [“Open vs. “Closed TBI” is further discussed on the Northeastern University “Types of TBI” page.]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a page titled “Concussion Danger Signs,” in which “Danger Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion” is seen.

Preventing Concussions and Other Brain Injuries

As to how to prevent concussions and other brain injuries, various recommendations can be seen on the CDC “Concussion Prevention” page.  As seen on this page, general recommendations are provided, as well as those for specific sports.  Of note, many statistics indicate the wearing of a certified, properly-fitted helmet is among the best ways to prevent potential head injuries.  As seen in many statistics as well as descriptions of accident injuries, for many reasons bicyclists and motorcyclists are especially at risk for head trauma injuries.  One post that discusses the benefits of wearing a bicycle helmet is seen in the July 12, 2014 post titled “Bicycling Helmets And Their Importance Regarding Head Injuries.”

With regard to riding a motorcycle, the importance of wearing a motorcycle helmet as a means of avoiding possible head trauma during a motorcycle accident is discussed on the “Illinois Motorcyclist Safety And Helmet Use” page.

As far as driving a car or other vehicle, there are various steps that can be taken when one is traveling to reduce the chance of incurring a head injury.  Among the best preventative measures that can be taken is the wearing of a seat belt.  Vehicle airbags can also prevent potential head injuries.

For children and infants, proper occupant safety devices such as car and booster seats are to be used.

Other recommendations for avoiding head trauma stemming from vehicle accidents includes avoiding certain types of car accidents, including those that result from (excessive) speeding, distracted driving, and drunk driving.

Short- And Long-Term Impacts Of Head Injuries

How concussions impact short- and long-term health – including mental functions, emotions, memory, and other conditions – has been a subject of discussion and debate.  As well, many lawsuits have been filed in which parties allege that concussions and other head trauma – as well as repeated head trauma – has led to an overall decline of health, including mental health.

The CDC discusses short-and-long term impacts of head injuries on its “Complications of Concussion” page.  An excerpt:

Concussion may cause a wide range of short- or long-term complications, affecting thinking, sensation, language or emotions. These changes may lead to problems with memory, communication, personality changes, as well as depression and the early onset of dementia.

The page then discusses a wide range of potential complications of concussions, including post-concussion syndrome and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

In cases of severe head injuries, there is the possibility of incurring various permanent impairments and disabilities.  Here is a description of disabilities, as seen on the NIH (National Institute of Health) NINDS (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) page titled “NINDS Traumatic Brain Injury Information Page“:

Approximately half of severely head-injured patients will need surgery to remove or repair hematomas (ruptured blood vessels) or contusions (bruised brain tissue). Disabilities resulting from a TBI depend upon the severity of the injury, the location of the injury, and the age and general health of the individual. Some common disabilities include problems with cognition (thinking, memory, and reasoning), sensory processing (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), communication (expression and understanding), and behavior or mental health (depression, anxiety, personality changes, aggression, acting out, and social inappropriateness). More serious head injuries may result in stupor, an unresponsive state, but one in which an individual can be aroused briefly by a strong stimulus, such as sharp pain; coma, a state in which an individual is totally unconscious, unresponsive, unaware, and unarousable; vegetative state, in which an individual is unconscious and unaware of his or her surroundings, but continues to have a sleep-wake cycle and periods of alertness; and a persistent vegetative state (PVS), in which an individual stays in a vegetative state for more than a month.

Legal Steps To Take If You Have Had A Head Injury

If you are involved in an accident, there are many steps you should take to protect both your health and your legal rights, which includes your ability to potentially receive accident injury compensation.

As mentioned above, from a medical perspective, it is highly recommended that you get a prompt and thorough medical evaluation after an accident, especially one in which a significant head impact has occurred.

From a legal perspective, it is highly recommended that you speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.   There are many reasons for this.  In short, the lawyer can provide you with steps that you should take – as well as actions that you should not take – in order to protect your legal rights.  The personal injury lawyer can tell you whether the filing of a lawsuit is appropriate.

Due to the nature of head injuries and other serious accident injuries, it is important that those who have been injured seek appropriate compensation for these injuries.  There can be many direct and indirect costs stemming from such injuries.  These costs can be very substantial, and in some cases these costs can be ongoing, perhaps for (many) years.  As such, those who find themselves incurring such expenses will want to seek maximum compensation in order to offset the various costs and other hardships that will be incurred.

Generally speaking, there are various forms of accident injury compensation. These forms include, but are not limited to, compensation for:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Physical and vocational rehabilitation costs
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Compensation for permanent impairments (loss of function)
  • Out-of-pocket costs
  • Costs of fixing and/or replacing a damaged vehicle, in the case of a vehicle accident

Tony Elman, Lead Trial Attorney of Chicago’s Elman Law Group, offers a free legal consultation to those that have been injured in an accident.  He also offers this free legal consultation to individuals who represent those who have died as a result of an accident.  Tony can tell you the actions that you should be taking in order to maximize your potential accident injury compensation, as well as provide you with an idea as to what levels of compensation may be reasonably expected for your accident injuries (i.e. “how much your case may be worth.”)

Tony Elman can be contacted directly at (773) 392-8182.  Elman Law Group has handled over 10,000 Illinois personal injury cases over the last 25+ years.  We have established a reputation for notable successes in both court verdicts and settlements for our clients.