Some people can go on to live a normal life with limited issues after a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Many TBI patients live a life with limitations and impairments.
Levels of Traumatic Brain Injury by Severity
A blow to the head or body can damage brain tissue. A mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) may cause temporary disruption in your loved one’s brain, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. He may have a hard time functioning correctly, but the patient usually recovers and goes on to lead a life without limitations.
If the TBI is moderate to severe, the patient can experience physical damage to the structure of the brain. Bleeding in the brain, torn brain tissue, bruising, and other harm to the brain can cause irreversible brain damage. Severe TBI can take the life of the victim or cause them to have long-lasting problems.
Complications of Moderate to Severe TBIs
Some of the complications of a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury appear right away, while others develop over time. The injured person might experience only a few or many of the symptoms associated with a traumatic brain injury.
Altered States of Consciousness Due to a TBI
Because of the disruption of the brain’s function and the physical damage to the brain, a traumatic brain injury can alter a person’s state of consciousness. The possible states of consciousness your loved one may experience after a TBI include:
- Coma (a temporary or transitional state)
- Vegetative state (can improve to a minimally conscious state or remain in a vegetative state permanently)
- Minimally conscious state (can be temporary)
- Brain death
A person can sustain a significant TBI without experiencing an altered state of consciousness.
Intellectual Impairment From a TBI
The brain often does not work in the same way after a moderate or severe TBI. According to the Mayo Clinic, the patient might experience cognitive problems with memory, attention, thinking, and learning. He might not be able to make decisions, solve problems, or multitask.
Language and Communication Issues From a TBI
Depending on the region of the brain that is damaged, your loved one might not be able to understand spoken or written words. He might lose the ability to speak or write. Conversations can become a challenge if he cannot follow what people are saying or participate in the exchange.
Some people cannot control the muscles that make it possible to form words after a traumatic brain injury. Much of our social interaction relies on nonverbal cues, but some patients can no longer read or understand these subtleties.
Changes in Behavior and Emotional Status Due to a TBI
The friends and family members of someone who sustains a severe brain injury often report that the patient’s personality and moods change drastically afterward. It is as if the person you knew is no longer present and a new personality has arrived. A significant brain injury can lead to:
- Verbal outbursts
- Physical altercations
- Taking inappropriate risks
- Anxiety and depression
- Wild mood swings
- Unbridled anger
Not everyone who sustained a TBI has these changes, but many individuals do.
Sensory Damage Due to a TBI
The nerves that control our senses and parts of the brain that interpret data from the nervous system must work correctly so we can use our senses. If there is sensory damage resulting from a traumatic brain injury, a person may experience these problems:
- Double vision, blind spots, or being unable to recognize previously familiar objects
- Lack of hand and eye coordination
- Ongoing tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Changes in the sense of smell, like being unable to smell things
Living with complications like these can diminish a person’s enjoyment of life and make it very difficult to live a normal life after a TBI.
Other Physical Complications Stemming From a TBI
In addition to the other problems a person can have after a traumatic brain injury, other physical issues are common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some of these complications include:
- Seizures that can progress into post-traumatic epilepsy
- Frequent severe headaches or increased pressure in the head
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Sluggish sensation
- Inability to concentrate or memory issues
- Paralyzed facial muscles
- Damages to blood vessels that can cause blood clots or a stroke
- Hydrocephalus (a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain)
Sometimes these complications eventually resolve themselves, but for others the struggles last forever.
Degenerative Brain Disease as a Result Of a TBI
Medical research published in Translational Neurodegeneration indicates that after a person sustains a severe TBI or has several mild head injuries (like some athletes), he can develop degenerative brain disease later in life. Examples of degenerative brain diseases include Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.
Rehabilitation For TBI
Brain rehabilitation teams try to help patients recover as much of their abilities and skills as possible. The goal of the rehabilitation is to help people who sustained a traumatic brain injury achieve some independence, even if their lives are irreparably different than before.
The patient should receive an evaluation and a tailored treatment plan. “Cookie cutter” approaches are not appropriate for a patient diagnosed with a brain injury.
Brain rehabilitation often includes an intensive inpatient component. The team will try to help the patient transition to the next stage, which might be living at a long-term care facility, residing at home with supports or living independently. An outpatient rehabilitation program will help the patient adjust to their new setting.
Living a normal life after a TBI is not possible for everyone. After a traumatic brain injury, the injured person needs individualized care. At Pintas & Mullins, we provide personal attention to your legal matters in severe injury cases. Call us today at (888) 808-5977 to find out your legal options.