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Traumatic Brain Injuries

Maryland auto accident attorneyWhen most people hear the phrase "traumatic brain injury," or "TBI" they often assume a severe and direct impact to the head accompanied by a loss of consciousness, internal bleeding and an immediate onset of debilitating symptoms. They think of the inability to function and perform basic daily activities.  However, this scenario occurs only in the most severe cases of traumatic brain injury.

The injuries are certainly within the spectrum of the damage that can occur from a TBI, but are generally not the not the norm that result from a car or other accident. The oversimplified definition of a traumatic brain injury ("TBI") is damage to the brain caused by trauma.  In reality, a TBI is a complicated injury that can have a wide range of symptoms and impairments, and most cases do result in recovery.

Symptoms of a TBI may appear right away or may not appear for days or weeks after the trauma occurs. In some cases, a person suffering from a TBI may not even be aware that they have suffered a brain injury. Since TBIs can effect different parts of the brain, there is no universal set of symptoms. Symptoms will largely depend upon the nature, severity and location of the injury, although characteristics such as physical health, age and even the sex of the victim can determine the severity of the symptoms and the road to recovery.

Many traumatic brain injuries often appear symptomless and the victim appears for the most part normal. Concussions are the most well-known form of TBI, however, many concussions frequently go undetected a la the NFL and its players. Keep in mind, one does not have to suffer a direct impact to the head by or with a foreign object for a TBI to occur. For example, a whiplash injury where the head - and in turn the brain - is jerked back and forth impacting the skull is more than sufficient to cause a TBI.

While TBIs are measured on a spectrum ranging from mild to severe, all brain injuries may have some level of impact both on the lives of those suffering from the injury, and their families. Unfortunately, TBIs and their symptoms, causes, and treatment are often misunderstood, causing a mistreatment or misdiagnosis of the symptoms surrounding them.

Mild TBIs

Don't let this misnomer fool you, as there is nothing mild about a brain injury. A mild TBI typically involves lesser degree of brain damage coupled with brief (less than 30 minutes) loss of consciousness or no loss of consciousness. In most cases it is temporary depending on the past history of head injury. Imaging results, such as those from a CAT scan or MRI, often look normal even though the patient has suffered a brain injury.

However, other impacts are telling of the TBI; dizziness, headaches, difficulty concentrating, vision issues, difficulty articulating thoughts/communicating, and mood swings, to name a few. It is imperative that a victim not dismiss this type of injury as "mild" for several reasons:

  1. Although the symptoms of mild TBI may typically disappear fairly quickly, approximately fifteen (15%) percent of those who suffer a mild TBI continue to suffer a degree of cognitive or processing, physical, and/or emotional symptoms, such as those identified above permanently.
  2. Although diagnostic studies are the best way to show concrete proof of a TBI, the most compelling evidence usually comes from friends, family and colleagues who notice a change in the victim's personality, memory, mood or disposition, and their ability to perform routine mental tasks or processing. As many family members have related to us have, "there is just something off about John or Jane."  They are not quite themselves to compared what they were pre-accident.

Severe TBIs

A severe TBI generally involves loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes and significant and permanent post-injury problems, such as short or long term memory loss, and loss of certain critical brain function and processing abilities.  Think of somebody with Alzheimer's or some level of dementia.

Victims of severe TBIs may experience coma, slurred speech, emotional or behavioral problems, difficulty focusing, depression or mania, difficulty completing routine tasks, short or long-term memory loss, and limited or complete loss of use of one's extremities. These alterations to a patient's brain can severely and negatively impact the victim's capacity to work, live independently, and participate in social activities.

While recovery from a severe TBI is not always possible, the nature and length of recovery is specific to the individual person. Long-term rehabilitation will frequently be required,  but is never guaranteed to cure the injury. Indicators used for an individual's prognosis include:

  • Duration of Coma or Loss of Consciousness. The shorter the coma, the better the prognosis,
  • Post-traumatic amnesia. The shorter the amnesia, the better the prognosis; and,
  • Age.  Patients over the age of 60 or under the age of 2 have the worst prognosis.

The rehabilitation therapy program for victims of moderate to severe TBIs is specifically tailored to each individual and usually involves treatment in the areas of physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive therapy, speech therapy, physiatry (physical medicine), psychology/psychiatry, and social support.  In various instances, lifetime care may be necessary.

Whether mild or severe, TBIs are among the worst types of injuries one can suffer. It is important to consult with an attorney who is experienced in dealing with brain injuries to ensure that both you and your loved ones are properly compensated for the devastating mental, physical, emotional and financial effects of these injuries.

Our firm knows traumatic brain injuries and the impact they can have. If you or a loved one has been harmed in an accident, suffered a TBI, we invite you to set up a free consultation. These consultations are designed to help us establish the facts of your claim, evaluate your potential for compensation and develop the best strategy to help you both legally and medically.

Your free consultation is also an opportunity for you to ask us any questions you may have about your legal rights and figure out if we're the right fit for you. And best of all, if you decide to hire us to represent you, you only have to pay if we win your case.

That's because the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC serving clients in Maryland, the District and Northern Virginia works on a contingency fee basis. There are no hidden fees, no surprises.

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